With my binoculars, I looked out of my window Sunday morning from our city condo. (In the photo the famous Diamond Head landmark is the one top left near the horizon). In the not too far distance, about a mile away, I saw 2 buses shuttling people on the winding road near the top of the extinct volcano crater shaped like a punchbowl. They were heading for the National Punchbowl Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. People were beginning to arrive for the memorial services to honor military hero of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Hawaii’s distinguished first Japanese U.S. representative to Congress and second-longest-serving Senator in U.S. history- DANIEL K. INOUYE. Security was going to be very tight and no cars or walk-ins were permitted. Admission to the memorial service was by ticket only, and only if you came on the special buses. It was a disappointment to many who thought the public would be welcome to attend the event.
So Wyman and I decided there wouldn’t be any traffic congestion and we could take a short ride to the countryside to take the pot of poinsettias which I enjoyed so much over the past week, to place on my parents’ grave, stay a few moments, and then drive back to get to church in time to play Christmas songs with my Ukulele orchestra.
It was such a beautiful morning with clear skies for the scenic drive through the cool forest reserve areas (70F) with the blue-gray-green mountains in the background and just a few cumulus clouds gracing the mountains. Coming out of the mountain tunnel we could see the entire spectacular Windward side way below us. It would normally be a 20-25 minutes ride one way so we took the time to say our morning prayers, praising God for all of the beauty of His creation we were enveloped in. Then as we approached the junction where we needed to turn left on the highway toward the cemetery, the traffic came to a complete stop with about 50 cars backed-up. We had to wait for another 25 minutes for President Obama and his wife, who arrived yesterday, as they were heading for Senator Inouye’s memorial service from a beach home on the Windward side of the island while on vacation. Wyman counted 20 police motorcycle escorts, then the entire entourage passed us with identical black security and other vehicles, one transporting the President and his wife into the city of Honolulu to the Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery. Later, when we were singing in church we heard the thundering roar of the missing-man formation flyover of F-22 Raptor fighter jets which came at the end of the memorial service.
As we continued our ride to the countryside memorial park, we listened to Chuck Smith read the Christmas story of the birth of Jesus from the book of Luke. We made ‘small talk’ about how all 6 boys in Wyman’s family were born at home with a midwife assisting with their births. It was like my mom and dad’s generation when babies were born at home. We are a generation apart; my husband’s dad was an immigrant; both of my parents were born in America. My sisters and I were born in a hospital, as were our children. My daughters were born in a very nice children’s hospital; my oldest was born in a military army hospital when my husband was a lst Lt. in the U.S. Air Force. It cost a total of only $7.00 for my meals with my 3-day stay at Tripler Army hospital, a few hundred dollars each for the girls’ birth, and maybe today it may cost several hundred to a thousand dollars or more for giving birth in a comfortable hospital… Which brings me to the birth of Jesus, a story that always fascinated my students in the parochial schools I taught at. We would share our birth stories like where we were born; how mothers prepared for their babies with baby clothes and warm blankets, head bonnets and little booties, a nice crib to bring the baby home to, and so on.
BUT there was no baby who was ever born under the conditions that Jesus was born! After a long and arduous journey of 80 miles and several days from Nazareth to Bethlehem, to report for the census and to pay their taxes as decreed by Caesar Augustus, Joseph had to look for a place for Mary to give birth! There was no place to be found, because of the teeming number of visitors in Bethlehem. Thus, Jesus was born in a stable area a shelter for animals, “because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). He was laid in a crib of hay, which was a manger or food trough for animals. He was wrapped in swaddling cloths… This is how JESUS came into the world. And this was the ‘sign’ given to the shepherds who received the announcement of His birth from the angel of the Lord, how they would know and recognize the “Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)
“And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12)
The full account of the birth of Jesus may be read in Matthew 1:18-25; Luke Chapter 2. Why was Jesus born? The answer is John 3:16-
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call him JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Mt 1:21
“they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Mt 1:23
“there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” Mt 2:1-2
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11
“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” 2 Cor 8:9