“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” (Philippians 2:1-2 from Philippians 2:1-11)
It is Christmas Eve. On Christmas Eve most things focus the evening hours, leading up to midnight when the hours of darkness slowly turn to the hours of dawn. And the celebration of Jesus’ birth.
But two thousand plus years ago, the story of Jesus’ birth tell us, the focus was the daytime hours and Mary & Joseph journeying into Bethlehem and the busy-ness and noise there. If you have ever played a part in birthing a baby, you will know the hours leading up to the birth can be fraught with pain and desperation. So this passage is quite conducive to the minutes and hours leading up to Christmas day.
Encouragement? I am sure Mary needed lots of encouragement. “I’ll find some place for us to stay tonight” Joseph must have said. “It’s only a little further” Mary must have told her self. “I’ll find something soft for you to lay down on” Joseph probably told Mary. “Lots of women have had babies and lived to tell about it” Mary probably told herself.
Consolation from love? Joseph loved Mary – he took her for his wife, braving the scandal. Mary loved Joseph – he believed she was special amongst all women, and not just because she was his wife. They both loved God and believed that God was with them and blessed them.
Sharing of the Spirit? Oh, the Spirit was there gentle reader. Make no doubt of that. No other baby had its birth announcement done by a heavenly choir.
Compassion and sympathy? While a stable might have been one of the worse places to give birth, it is a birth story that has moved countless millions and has engendered Mary and Joseph as celebrated of parents.
As for joy? The world have been moved by joy yearly.
Paul may not have intended for this snippet of his letter to the Philippians to be applied to the Christmas story, but I do not think he would be displeased. So would say to you also, gentle reader. Be of the same mind; trust in God as Joseph did. Allow yourself to be used for God’s plan as Mary did. And go out into the world declaring joy and peace as Christ did. Be of one mind with them all! Selah! And shalom for your day.