A Mother’s Love

A Mother’s Love

The Birth of Jesus
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no place in the guest room.

Luke 2:1-7 (NRSVUE)

We have exciting Oldtown news to share this week because a new baby has been born! No, not Jesus; we celebrate his official birth next week. But Aurora Maegan Dix was born on Friday morning in Charleston, South Carolina. She wasn’t expected until January, however, she made her grand entrance on Friday, four weeks early. The good news is, at 5lbs 15oz, she is a happy, healthy baby, and her parents, Matthew and Kate, her Uncle Michael, and her grandparents, Michael and Doreen, are over the moon excited!

Friends, new babies always bring with them a sense of wonder, hope, and promise, from the fragile beginnings of a new life to the endless possibilities that that life brings. Now, I don’t know how many of you have been to a baby shower recently or who have had a baby born into your family or friend groups. But the baby items that are available today are endless!

Now, I know I’m going to sound like old curmudgeon, but when my kids were born, we didn’t have to have all these things that society tells moms are an absolute must today. From the fancy baby carriers to the high-tech monitors, and from the baby bouncers to the white noise makers. The one that my husband and I always joked about–mostly because it came out after our kids were out of diapers–was the baby wipe warmer. To keep the baby wipes nice and warm for a more soothing diaper change. Sure, babies need food, warmth, and gentle care, but sometimes I think we forget that love is what they need the most, not a whole bunch of fancy gadgets.

Just a side note: as I was preparing today’s message, when I got to just about this point, my husband walked in and said, “Do you know that engagement ring boxes light up now when you open them?” to which I replied, “Of course they do!”

When my kids were each first born, I worried, like any new mom does, about whether I was doing a good enough job. But whenever I started feeling myself getting really nervous, I always thought back to my Dad’s grandfather.

As the story goes, he was born at home in Maine in 1891. He was born premature and very small, so his mother wrapped him in a small towel, put him in a shoebox, and placed the box by the wood-burning stove to keep him warm. She didn’t have fancy carriers or monitors or white noise makers, but she cared for him and loved him, and he made it through. Now, because of that little premature baby born in 1891, there are seventeen human beings from over five generations that have walked this earth.

Friends, in our scripture reading this morning, we heard a similar story, Jesus was born in a humble stable, wrapped in simple bands of cloth, and laid in a manger. Mary didn’t have fancy carriers or monitors or baby wipe warmers, but she made the best of what she had, and she shared with Jesus that which was most important, her love.

Folks, often at Christmas here in the US we get a mixed message. Society tells us that Christmas is about finding the perfect gift and wrapping it in the fanciest paper. It’s about getting everything you want even if it means putting yourself in debt to get it. Friends, where did we go wrong? When did we mix up the message? How did a baby born in a humble stable wrapped in simple bands of cloth and laid in a manger lead to consumerism and excessive greed?

Friends, this Advent, through our Email devotionals, we have been looking at ways to spread kindness, to be like the Advent angel who reached out to Zechariah, Mary, Joesph, and the shepherds saying “Do not be afraid” or the innkeeper who said, “There is no room in the inn,” but you can find a quiet place in the stable, or even the animals, who I imagine showed a lot more care and compassion than the crowds of people in the streets.

Besides kindness this advent, we have also been wearing our flannels and fleece and experiencing comfort. Now I am sure that the stable was not the most comfortable place for Jesus to be born, but Mary and Joseph made it as comfortable as they could. I imagine that as Mary wrapped Jesus in those simple bands of cloth, though tired, she was gentle, kind, and caring. Folks, when we share simple acts of kindness and love like that, we can bring such comfort to the world.

Earlier, I told you the story about my great-grandfather, who was born prematurely back in 1891. Now of course, the good news today is that there are hospitals with fancy monitors and all kinds of medical equipment to care for tiny babies like that. But I want to tell you about an important project that I learned of recently. It is through a non-profit organization called Project Sweet Peas, and Project Sweet Peas works with families who have babies in the NICU, also known as the neonatal intensive care unit.

Now, Project Sweet Peas does a lot of things to support families, but the story that I want to share with you this morning is about how they use flannel. Over the last few weeks, we have been wearing our flannel here in Oldtown as we have been talking about tidings of comfort and hope, peace, joy, and love. But flannel is also used in the NICU with tiny babies. The babies are not wrapped in bands of flannel like Jesus was wrapped in bands of cloth, but flannel hearts are made by volunteers and given to the baby’s parents. The parents wear the flannel hearts next to their skin, absorbing their scent. Then, the hearts are taken to the NICU and placed next to the infant, where they can be comforted by their parent’s scent, even and especially when the parents are unable to hold or be with their infant. Folks, those flannel hearts, like kindness, faith, comfort, and love, are such humble, simple things, and yet, they can make a world of difference.

So, brothers and sisters in Christ, this Christmas, don’t get blinded by the fancy, shiny, expensive things that clamor for your attention. Instead, look for the simply humble things, like a baby in a manager, the love of a family member or friend, the kindness of a stranger, the faith of a child, or an old flannel shirt. Because that is where you will find the truest sense of comfort and love, not only on Christmas but always.

My friends, may it be so. Thanks be to God, Amen!


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