This time of year is bittersweet. I reminisce sweet times gone by of family and friends. I miss them so. Tears and smiles invade and despite my efforts to not be sad, sometimes I am. Regardless of my best efforts to not get caught up in the craziness of the world around me and my emotions, I find myself a prisoner, right in the middle of it.
Are you there too?
Take a walk with me back to where the true meaning of this season is. Let’s go back to the stable. Picture with me, a young, anxious couple awaiting the birth of their first child. They’re in a strange city where they know no one. Exhausted from a walk/donkey ride they just want to find a place to stay and rest, do what they need to do, and head back home. He checks every available place only to find the city is full with people complying with the census, just as they are. She’s ready to deliver any day now and she misses her mother. He’s still dumbfounded, perhaps a little numb with the news that his wife to be is pregnant not with his baby or another man’s baby…but with God’s baby!
He thinks to himself, “after all this, now I can’t find a place to take her to rest! This could be my last straw! Can’t people see she’s very pregnant? Can no one show us a little compassion?” The last innkeeper he comes to points to a place where people house their travel animals and tells him they’re welcome to stay there: “Hey, it’s a roof over your heads, that’s better than nothing!” so reluctantly the young husband-to-be takes him up on his offer.
He marvels at Mary. Throughout this pregnancy, she’s never had a cross word and never complained. She’s shown no fear, only the anxious anticipation of any first time mother. She’s remained faithful…and even more beautiful than the day he met her. To his eyes, she seemed to have an aura about her; a special glow.
Joseph makes her a place to rest and unpacks what they need for the night. Shortly thereafter it’s obvious she’s going to give birth right there.
Wasn’t she supposed to deliver God’s Son? Isn’t He a King? And…and…and…we’re here in a stable? Have I failed God? Have I failed, Father? This can’t be the way you intended to bring Him into the world…or is it? He was reminded of scripture; where the prophets said God’s Messiah was to be delivered and peace overtook him. They were there and He is coming!
The couple see each other through the birth of the world’s promised Prince of Peace. Joseph goes through the barn looking for something to wrap their newborn Jesus in and she wraps her son in strips of linen and holds him close to her, marvelling at her child. Their child. God’s child. They look into each other’s eyes and without words, say everything their hearts are flooded with. For a long time, no words are spoken. They’re in awe of God’s promise fulfilled.
We stand at the door of that miraculous sight. An ordinary girl and boy, pledged to be married, now parents of God’s own Son, the promised Messiah. Can you see Him? He’s your promise as well. God came to the world just for you, wrapped in the flesh of an innocent and perfect baby. Oh I know. You can’t take your eyes off Him. He’s yours, just as He’s Mary’s! He’s your King; your Promise; your Messiah. Isn’t He beautiful?
He came this way, with no pomp and circumstance, to let you know His/Our Father was thinking of you – yes you! The one who feels forgotten, forsaken and insignificant. YOU. He loves YOU that much.
Merry CHRISTmas beloved child of God.
Stay as long as you want at the stable. If you have to leave then go, but don’t forget what you’ve seen.
Don’t forget how favoured you are to have witnessed – and believe – that the baby you beheld there – in the midst of a dirty stable is the Jesus that comes in to the filth of whatever we’re going through and changes absolutely everything. Come back to the stable as often as you like. Stay there this season as often as you can.