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An Advent Devotional by Dr. Steve & Jackie Masterson

Dec 21, 2021 | Institution / General

ONE OF THE MOST SUNG CAROLS during the Christmas season is the much-loved Joy to the World. Culturally, we hear so often the repeated words, “I just want to be happy.” Happiness is often based on our circumstances. Joy has an eternal celebration that is based on the Joy Giver.

We never seem to tire of reading the Christmas story from Luke 1:26-80, 2:1-40. Somewhat hidden in this story of the coming of Jesus for the first time, there is often overlooked an amazing celebration of joy between two women.

When Mary came to visit Elizabeth, a profound mystery took place. Here God reveals the source of true joy. Listen to this mystery unfold between them. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb so much so that she was immediately filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice Elizabeth exclaimed, “As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, THE BABY IN MY WOMB LEAPED FOR JOY!” In some mysterious way, the Holy Spirit produced this remarkable response of joy in Elizabeth’s unborn baby.

No wonder we love the song Joy to the World and that Joy has spanned the generations to when we will experience His second coming. So, my challenge this coming Christmas is for us to experience another God moment when we can embrace and share this Joy that caused the unborn baby in Elizabeth’s womb to leap for joy.

God performed an amazing miracle on December 9, 1945 at my birth which brought joy to my mother and father. My scheduled birth was to be the end of February 1946.

We lived in Sexsmith, Alberta where my father and mother were on staff at the Peace River Bible Institute. My mother was alone at home and had a severe stomach ache. She had not thought of what was causing her so much pain. Since the Lord was knitting my body together, and I was being fearfully and wonderfully created in my mother’s womb, I was her painful stomach ache. All alone on the couch, she gave birth to me prematurely, two and a half months early. The umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck, and the first miracle happened. The Spirit of God moved in the next-door neighbor’s spirit. She came over to the house and immediately cut my umbilical cord, saving my life. I was still alive, weighing less than three pounds. I have a picture of my father holding me in one hand with my legs as long as his thumb.

There was no doctor or hospital in Sexsmith. So, my Dad found a BC wooden apple box and put a 60-watt light bulb in it. That was my incubator. It was a cold winter day when I was born on December 9, 1945. January came and the temperatures were down to 40 degrees below zero. It was another God miracle that this makeshift incubator kept me alive.

Mom became very creative and found a large shoe box from a pair of Dad’s shoes. She wrapped me up in a small flannel blanket. You will never guess where she put me? Kitchen stoves in 1945 were so different from kitchen stoves today. Only people old enough would know what the old-fashioned stoves were like. The stove was heated by black coal and firewood. It had an oven and so my mother wrapped me in a flannel blanket, put me in the shoe box and placed me in the oven.

When I was old enough to hear her story of my premature birth, I asked her, “Did you actually close the oven door?”

She said, “Oh I would never do that!” I replied, “You should have closed it because I was only half baked.” She laughed and gave me a big hug.

Only God could and did perform the miracle that saved my life. That’s why, every Christmas, I can sing the Joy to the World carol with such joy-filled gratitude because God, the Holy Spirit, produced this remarkable response once again by moving the neighbor to come to our door.

That is why I will turn 76 in 2021 and had the honour to have spent 24 of those joy-filled years with so many Providence alumni from 1973 to 1997 at Winnipeg Bible College and Providence University College and Seminary!

Together, during this Christmas season, let us experience once again the mysterious way the Holy Spirit produced this unspeakable joy in Elizabeth’s unborn baby.

Steve Masterson graduated from Providence with a BA in Bible & Theology (1971). He was also the Dean of Students (1973-1983) and started the Counseling program in the Seminary (1983-1997) as Associate Professor of Counselling. His wife, Jackie, worked in the bookstore from 1980 to 1997.