The Fragrance of Christ (Rose of Bethlehem by Lowell Alexander)

It felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders as I drove to the studio that day in the blinding rain. The decision to record a song for A Timeless Christmas had seemed like a good one at the time. Who could have known the cascade of events that would leave me feeling crushed and overwhelmed, with no desire to make myself vulnerable even for one afternoon?

Only God. And for that reason alone, I knew I had to forge ahead, trusting him for the results.

So on that November day, unrestricted by my inner turmoil, stress and helplessness, God had carved out a quiet place at a lovely studio in Albany, NY where I could focus on the wonder of our Savior’s birth.

rose-summer-blossom-bloom-flower-flowersJesus, “Rose of Sharon,” born in obscurity in the “Little Town of Bethlehem,” left the splendor of heaven to take up residence in a cattle stall. His mother, who had already become the talk of the town, endured great physical hardship as she and Joseph joined the weary travelers streaming into Bethlehem to pay the taxes they could barely afford, only to find there were no comfortable accommodations in which to welcome the promised one. Who could have known it would be so difficult for Mary, the willing vessel, chosen to give birth to God’s greatest gift to humanity?

Only God. And in the midst of turbulent times, he had carved out a quiet place of humble beginnings where the couple could rejoice in the fulfillment of the promise and the wonder of Christ’s birth. To that obscure and primitive place, Heaven’s angels and Bethlehem’s shepherds came to celebrate and worship with them.

Jesus, the “Rose of Bethlehem.” In preparation for the recording, I thought about the rose and how the crushing and bruising of the petals produces the sweetest fragrance. My Savior knew the process full well and yet he chose to endure the suffering and shame of the cross. My shame. He was despised and rejected for me. He was bruised for my iniquities. (Isaiah 53)

He deserved none of it but chose to endure all of it for me “like a rose trampled on the ground, [He] took the fall and thought of me above all.” (Above All by Paul Baloche and Lenny LeBlanc).

The fragrance of Christ is the perfume of his people.

I realized then that this season of trials in my life was nothing compared to everything he suffered. I thanked him for trusting me enough to prepare me in ways I did not understand for purposes he intended to fulfill, and found rest for my soul in singing about the Rose.

As you read this, you may be caught up in the vortex of holiday activities, pressures and concerns, feeling overwhelmed, rejected or set aside. But there is one who knew all along where you would be today and how your heart would feel. He loves you as you are and longs to enjoy this moment with you.

So close your eyes and let God lead you to that quiet place where you can rejoice in the wonder of our Savior’s birth.

Have a blessed Christmas!

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