I got a special "Christmas Surprise" just a couple days before Christmas this year - month-long renovations in my office were just wrapping up, when water pipes in the ceiling burst, drenching the freshly laid carpet, the ceiling, my co-workers, and much of our communications equipment. Months of planning, thousands of dollars of equipment and weeks of work - all washed away in seconds by a massive burst of water from "on high".
As we poured water out of printers, dried off networking gear, ripped up sodden carpet, and pulled down soggy ceiling tiles, it occurred to me that a guy named Joe experienced a somewhat similar Christmas surprise a couple thousand years ago. In case you don't know this particular story, Joe was a carpenter, plying his trade in Nazareth. He was engaged - to a lovely young lady named Mary. I'm sure he and his family had spent months of planning, and thousands of shekels (?) for his upcoming marriage. Dates were planned, the reception hall booked, the caterers hired (OK, permit me a bit of creative license here, OK?) When all of the sudden... unexpectedly... from on high, he got a rather shocking message. In Joe's case, it wasn't a gush of water, but rather, a heavenly visit from on high. His fiance... pregnant! The baby? A Messiah! Talk about a dramatic change of plans! The news must have hit him... well, a little like a burst of highly pressurized water from a fire sprinkler main.
It can be a little hard to feel the Christmas spirit while ripping your newly renovated office apart. No doubt Joseph found it hard to stay the course when angelic messengers dropped a messianic bombshell his lap. But that's the wonder of Christmas. In the midst of the chaos of Bethlehem at census time; ensconced in the squalor of a stable; sought after by shepherds and wise men from far away, the Prince of Peace was born.
May you and your families experience the peace of Christmas this season - whatever your circumstances, and wherever you happen to be calling home this year.