As I study the scripture this Advent season, I dwell on one particular aspect of the story this year. During a devotional time at my women's group a couple of weeks ago, the text mentioned "swaddling clothes". We talked about what we thought swaddling clothes were in those days. Being a group of women ranging in age from 45 to 82, we had all read the stories hundreds of times and we have all decided in our minds what swaddling clothes were. We came to the conclusion that they were strips of cloth wrapped around the newborn child, probably a little firmly (like a newborn blanket is wrapped tightly around a baby in the hospitals today).
Strips of cloth. His mother wrapped Him in strips of cloth.
We finished our devotional, went on to our yearly Christmas dinner and then finished up with our gift exchange. I received a nice cookbook from my secret pal and a pretty ornament for my tree. But, during all of this holiday celebrating, I couldn't put the thoughts of the "swaddling clothes" out of my head.
When I arrived home, I picked up my Bible and looked up the burial of Jesus' body after He was crucified. They wrapped His body in strips of clean linen cloth. "Ah-ha!" The Lord was wrapped in the same way at His birth that He was wrapped at His death.
Strips of cloth. I have no doubt that His mother, Mary, helped wrap Him in strips of cloth, once again.
I'm sure most or all of the people in those days were wrapped the same way as Christ was, but for the Bible to put this picture in my mind, at this time of year, leads me to once again think of why Jesus came. He was born to die. He was born for me, to die for me. The parallell of the "swaddling clothes" brings the Birth story full circle again. I always knew this. But, just having it justified once more, in scripture, in a new way, gives me another reason to really again celebrate Christmas this year.
And while we will have gift exchanges on Christmas morning and a trip to the extended family's home an hour away, lots of food and visiting, my Savior will not be far from my thoughts. As I unwrap my gifts, and as I watch my family unwrap their gifts, I will think of Jesus as my Savior that was "gift-wrapped" for all of us. Twice.
Merry Christmas to the Christ child. Happy Birthday to my Lord and Savior.
Good tidings of great joy to all of you.