December 2010: Page 1, 2, 3, 4

Muharram 1432

Volume 26 No 12

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Submitters Perspective

Monthly Bulletin of the International Community of Submitters Published by Masjid Tucson


And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem. To be taxed with Mary, his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

New Testament, King James version,
St. Luke 2:4-14

This was the story I heard every Christmas eve at church. It has a stirring ring to it; it’s very visual. We pictured poor Mary, “great with child,” being turned away from the inn. It was a lesson to be careful to help everyone in need—they might grow up to be someone important.

We saw the baby Jesus lying on a bed of straw, not wrapped in fine garments but in “swaddling clothes.” 
(And what the heck were swaddling clothes anyway? Turns out it was a common practice just to wrap the baby snuggly!). But we learned that someone from very humble beginnings can rise to greatness.

We see the shepherds being awed by this sign from God (but what were shepherds doing in the fields in December?) I pushed aside the discrepancies because it was a moving story and it was part of my heritage. It didn’t have to make sense; it just was. And probably the most important line of all—“Glory to God in the highest”—got lost in all the tragic and touching details.

Then came Christmas morning. Growing up in a Christian society, Christmas had very special meaning for me. It didn’t have much to do with Jesus (we left all that at church Christmas eve). It was about presents wrapped in bright paper, a tree on which we lovingly placed ornaments—some very old with a long history; it was singing carols, sitting in front of a fire while snow swirled around outside, visiting friends and family. But mostly, it was the presents—what you gave and what you got.

As a kid, I would wake up early, too excited to sleep, too filled with a lovely anticipation of what awaited me under the tree. Even as a young adult when I would go home for Christmas, there was a sense of anticipation on that Christmas morning, sharing time and gifts with my family.

Now I realize that I wake up every morning with that sense of elation. Every morning is a chance to repent, reform, and come closer to God.

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