As we approach another holiday season, I am amazed at how far people went this year to invoke the spirit of Christmas. I have to say I was blown away that people actually started putting up Christmas decorations almost three weeks before Halloween! I actually had one neighbor who put up their tree, with the decorations and ornaments in full regalia. It was so unusual that it even stupefied the young people trick or treating. Now while this may go on in some houses (and people are entitled to do whatever they want in their own house), I always enter the season knowing the reason for the season, and I'm not deterring from my belief. We come together to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is that time of year where we can experience peace, hope and yes, even good will toward men. As you may know, I am always going to talk about animals in my blogs. This one shall be no different. I have said it before and will continue to reiterate the point - animals were always a part of God's plan. During this time of the year, and from its inception, we see this most vividly.
When we consider the birth of Christ and the events that led up to that glorious moment he entered the world, there is one word that describes it in its entirety - humility. Everything about the birth of Christ was humbling in that the people involved with the event were humbled in the presence of God through prophetic words (Isaiah foretold of Christ birth in Isaiah 7:14) ; angelic visitation (the angel Gabriel visited Mary to announce that she would be the vessel that would bring forth the Savior; and the manner of visitation and presentation of gifts brought to the King of Kings. Even Herod, in his diabolical plot to destroy the King, was foiled and went to prove that He is Lord over everything. Also, in this scene were animals. Animals surrounded the entire nativity scene. From the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks to the camels that brought the Three Wise Men to the animals in the farm that surrounded the Lord when he was born. Animals such as cows, calves, goats and donkeys. I can only imagine this moment was quite sobering. I must also reflect on the humility of the animals and how this has been a vital part of the human experience, mainly when the Savior came into the world.
When one considers being a servant, you must look at the main characteristic that identifies this state of being. Humility is a modest view of one's own importance. As a servant, one conducts himself/herself in humble fashion as they seek to perform a function or duty for someone considered to be in a more elevated position. When Jesus performed the act of washing his disciple's feet, he showed us the greatest example of what humility looks like. Can you imagine, the Savior of the world and the King of kings washing your feet? With all his power in majesty and glory, Jesus stepped down and performed this act to show that no matter who you are, you can still humble yourself and serve another.
Animals have always served mankind. They have done it in the most humble fashion. I don't even want to imagine the number of animals that were beaten (or maybe even killed) because they were serving mankind, and we in our ungrateful state did not regard this level of servitude. Animals, that provided transportation, hauled barges and moved people from place to place; provided companionship for long, weary travelers over miles of desert and terrain. These animals, even being sacrificed to becoming food for consumption in arduous times. They have served us and we have overlooked their level of service to us. They have always conducted themselves in a humble manner. Mankind should count its blessings and having these wonderful creatures as part of our human experience should be at the top of the list. They give and give and give. We just take, and take and take. Yet, all the while, they remain devoted to us, helping to meet out various needs. We must always do better by them because they deserve that.
That is why when we read the story of the birth of Christ, and see all the wonderful events and people (with animals) surrounding his arrival into the world, we bow our hearts in adoration. The wise men traveled very far to meet the newborn king and present him with gifts. They (Kings themselves) came, and bowed before him while presenting their treasures. The animals that carried them there also revered the moment and stood by in quiet patience and awe. They too knew they were in the presence of greatness. The animals being there also spoke to their identification with the one that created them. Animals didn't sin and fall from grace, man did. They, unfortunately fell victim to the curse of sin. Nonetheless, their souls know where they came from and the acknowledgment of His birth was proclaimed in heaven and on earth. The shepherds were given a sign, and as they tended their flocks, I can only imagine that the animals knew something wonderful was happening and they glorified God too.
Serving another person requires humility. Humility of heart and mind. Animals have been serving man since the beginning of time. They completely understand what humility is and in that humble state, God's heart is drawn closer. ""Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time." I believe every living creature was made to bow down in humility before God and that His whole creation would glorify him. Animals, no less one of his creations, exude the very character of God through their unconditional love, devotion and ability to serve mankind in the manner they do. Jesus gave an interesting foresight to animals and anyone who seeks to be great. "But he who is greatest among you will be your servant (Matt 23:11). This lets me know that the ones who do serve God in lowliness of mind and with humility, will one day hold a great position in His kingdom.
So as we celebrate this holiday season, let us maintain humility and kindness. If we maintain this attitude, we can then then live out what the angels proclaimed when the Savior came into the world, "peace and on earth, good will toward men."
Have a wonderful and blessed holiday season!!