THE TRUE BLESSINGS OF CHRISTMAS (LUKE 1:26-45)
There is supposedly a blessing for everything in Judaism, from food to drink, from people to nature, from illness to danger.
If you have seen Fiddler on the Roof, you may remember that the rabbi of the tiny Jewish community in Russia was asked by a student concerning a blessing for the Tsar of Russia. With the song “Tradition” playing in the background, the student came up to the rabbi, the town’s most important person, and asked him how to pray for the powerful Tsar: “Rabbi, Rabbi, may I ask you a question?” “Of course,” the rabbi replied. “Is there a proper blessing for the Tsar?” The Rabbi said, “Blessing for the Tsar? Of course. May God bless and keep the Tsar…far away from us!”
Around Christmas time, most people, especially kids, ask themselves if they’ve been naughty or nice, bad or good, crying or not.
Christmas, however, is never a difficult or depressing experience. It is first and foremost a blessed experience. The word “blessing” does not quite fit the theme of Christmas. Traditionally, we greet each other at this time of the year “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.” Christmas is anything but a blessing now; it is a burden or a break, for revelry, recreation or reunion time.
Why is Christmas a blessing to the world and a blessed time of the year? How are we blessed? What do we have to do to receive and experience this blessing?
Count Your Blessing from the Lord
26 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. (Luke 1:26-29)
A Persian fable says: “One day a wanderer found a pale-looking but sweet-scented lump of clay. Curious at the lump of clay’s fragrant smell, the wanderer asked the clay, “What are you? Are you a beautiful gem?” The clay said, “No, I am not.” “Are you a rare plant?” the wanderer again questioned. The clay again answered, “No, I am not that either.” The wanderer next queried, “Then you must be a costly merchandise?” The clay retorted, “No, I am just a lump of clay.” The frustrated wanderer then asked, “Then, how did you smell so good?” The lump of clay finally confessed, “I smell good because I have been dwelling with the rose.” (7,700 Illustrations # 7143)
Recorded in the KJV but not NIV is the additional but helpful clause in verse 28, repeated in verse 42: “Blessed art thou among women.” The Greek word “eulogeo” (v 28) to describe Mary’s blessing is an unusual greeting, whether used for men or women, the dead or the living. The English equivalent is “eulogy,” a part of a funeral program. To eulogize someone is not merely to talk generally about the person but to speak highly of the person, or “good words” literally, especially at the person’s funeral! Unlike its English usage, the Greek word is a dynamic and living word, not a dead word and a belated honor for the deceased.