Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ugly Beginnings

Imagine finding what looks like a little pile of caterpillar frass (poop) on a leaf. You turn over the little pile and find a pupa of either a butterfly or moth. What an odd place to find such a thing! Looking at the above photos, who would ever guess that something beautiful could come from this nasty little pile?

When I found this little pupa, I brought it home and kept it secure until the moth or butterfly inside emerged. I had no idea what species was inside, developing it's mature wings and body.

Imagine my surprise when I found the beautiful small green moth that emerged one day. This little moth resembles a butterfly with it's posture; wings upright over its back.

green moth

I started thinking about how much beauty comes from 'ugly' things. Our human judgement is not commendable.

This caterpillar is also considered 'ugly' ....

... and so is this chrysalis. The caterpillar has lumps, bumps, and not much beautiful about it. The chrysalis is also brown and lumpy.

Yet the Red-spotted Purple butterfly that develops from this caterpillar and chrysalis is a real beauty. One would never dream that such beauty could come from this brown lump of a chrysalis.

This time of year we think of a spot that was also very disgusting to our human minds. A spot where animals were kept; with smells from animals and the smells of fresh manure of those animals very present. The word 'manger' brings images of clean beautiful surroundings, fresh hay, clean little lambs and donkeys, such as we see in 'manger' scenes and paintings. But lets look at the truth; even when a stable is cleaned regularly, it definitely keeps the smell of manure.

Now imagine the stable on the night that Jesus was born. There were so many people in Bethlehem that the inn was full. There arrived a man and a woman who was so far advanced in her preganacy that she delivered her baby that night. The inn was so full that the only option she had was the stable. This stable must have been filled with animals that people rode as they traveled to Bethlehem; remember that the town was full of people who came to register for the census.

No matter how many times the stable was cleaned, it simply must have been dirty when Mary was giving birth to Jesus. So many people had traveled to the town that the inn was full. Their animals would have been in stables. A very real fact about animals is manure. No matter how often a stable is cleaned, it will be dirty.

The smell of dirty sweaty animals must have been heavy. Mary's feet must have been dirty with manure as she walked through the stable. Joseph must have cleaned an area for Mary to lie down and to give birth to the baby that they both knew was far from an 'ordinary' baby. Angels had talked to each of them privately, months before. I can't believe that Joseph would have allowed this baby to be born in the midst of dirty animals and manure if he had any other option.

We can't know what it was really like; how many animals, how bad it smelled, how much manure was on the floor, what the surroundings were for this woman to give birth to her son. But it had to be dirty by our standards of living quarters, let alone a delivery room.

But we do know that the truly most beautiful thing ever to enter this world was our saviour, Jesus Christ. The son of God - who came from surroundings we humans consider 'ugly'.

Matthew 1 : 18 - 21
This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiancĂ©, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Luke 1 : 26B - 38
God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel[e] forever; his Kingdom will never end!” Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.

Luke 2 : 1-7
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire.(This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.)All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancĂ©e, who was now obviously pregnant. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.

Luke 2 : 15 - 16
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger

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