, Muskogee, OK

December 2, 2013

Distractions can disrupt the Christian mindset

By Barrett Vanlandingham
Fort Faith

— Now that we have made it through the Thanksgiving, it’s on to Christmas!

What a most wonderful time of the year.

Gift-giving, families reuniting, beautiful decorations, joyful music, and of course the fact that so many people think about the coming of Christ also makes this season very special.

As Christians, we should be thinking about the very special gift of Jesus all year long.

And even though December has traditionally become the time that many people celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ on earth, oddly enough, it is also the time that the stresses of the holiday season can squeeze our thoughts of Jesus right out of the picture if we’re not careful.

If anyone had an excuse to not make room for Jesus, it would be Joseph and Mary.

They took on the responsibility, even though it wasn’t easy.

Just think about all the distractions and difficulties they faced in order to make room in their lives for Jesus.

First off, when most of us wake up in the morning, we never imagine that an angel is going to personally greet us with an unexpected message that is about to turn our life upside down.  

Can you imagine what this teenage Mary must have thought when she was informed of her new assignment to give birth to the Christ child even though she was still a virgin?

You talk about a stressor! How would she explain to her soon to be husband, her family, and her friends that she is pregnant?

We already know most of what Joseph was thinking, not to mention what everyone else probably thought as soon as she started showing still out of wedlock.

Joseph and Mary accepted the challenge, but that didn’t mean the difficult days were over.

They had to travel from Nazareth about 100 miles to Bethlehem for a census of the entire Roman world, without the benefit of fast, reliable, and comfortable transportation.

It would have been at least a weeklong walk one way, and even if Mary was riding on a donkey with Joseph walking, they would still have to endure weather conditions, danger from robbers, and exhaustion.

These would have been factors no matter what month of the year.

By the way, it is unlikely that the shepherds and their flocks were outside in the winter, and it also unlikely that a census requiring everyone to travel would have taken place in the winter.

As soon as they arrived, imagine the crowds, and the lack of places to stay as evidenced by the fact that there was no room at the inn for them.

So, the baby was born in a cattle stall, and placed in a feeding trough instead of whatever accommodations they had prepared back home.

Joseph and Mary certainly had to adjust their schedules to make room for the challenges surrounding the birth of Jesus.

Let us all take a closer look at the things that are taking our minds and commitment away from our Christian walk during the holidays and the rest of the year, too. Always remember to make room Jesus.

Have a great week!

Reach Barrett vanlandingham at the Fort Gibson Church of Christ at (918) 478-2222 or barrett@