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‘I wasn’t expecting that!’


The shepherds in the field outside Bethlehem didn’t expect an angelic choir to interrupt their shift on that glorious night.

BY JAMES BURNS*

 

I hope it’s not too late to ask if your Christmas went as planned ... or did real life crash in, in a good or bad way?

 

Perhaps you said to yourself, “I wasn’t expecting that!” If so, you are in good company with many characters from the first Christmas.

 

As a young woman engaged to be married, I doubt that it was in Mary’s five-year plan to get pregnant. Imagine her explaining to her fiancée Joseph that she had been visited by an angel (Oh, really? Yes, really!) who told her that she was going to have God’s son.

 

How difficult it must have been for her to tell her parents and then Joseph to tell his, especially the angel bit. And that’s before all the gossip would start about whom people thought was really the father. Remember, times were very different then for unmarried mothers. Both could reasonably say, “I wasn't expecting that!”

 

Nor was it in either of their plans to travel over 140km from Nazareth to Bethlehem because of orders from the occupying Roman Emperor Augustus. That couldn’t have been easy for Mary when she was due to have the baby. 

 

“If that wasn’t enough of a shock, there was then this Sister Act-type choir of even more angels belting out the first Christmas carol.”

And then shortly after she had delivered Jesus, this group of shepherds arrived with an equally unbelievable story. It had been a normal night at work for them out in the fields looking after their sheep when another angel (Oh really? Yes, really!) told them the good news about a baby being born, their Saviour.

 

If that wasn’t enough of a shock, there was then this Sister Act-type choir of even more angels belting out the first Christmas carol. Now we can be sure that they weren’t expecting anything like that when they clocked on for work that night, no more than Mary was expecting a crowd to appear so soon after she had given birth.   

 

So, as you go to work or about your usual life this year, you may not be visited by an angel, but then again ...

 

But that’s not to say that God won’t break in with special instructions or good news for you, too. Then you’ll be able to say, “I wasn’t expecting that!”

 

* James Burns is a Salvationist freelance writer from Dunstable Corps in the UK

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