Away in a manger, no crib for His bed. The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head…
It certainly wasn’t convenient timing for the baby to be born. The circumstances couldn’t have been much worse. It’s easy to romanticize the story of Jesus’ birth with a docile Mary, an along-for-the-ride Joseph, and a radiant baby Jesus, but imagine for a moment what they might have been feeling on a human level.
Mary and Joseph had traveled about 155 kilometers from home on foot (unless you count the donkey). Mary must have been hot and tired and feeling mighty irked to find no room in the inn. Joseph had to be stressed. Here he is with this woman, not yet his wife, and he can’t even provide a room for her where she could rest comfortably at this most uncomfortable time in her pregnancy. How awkward!
And then the pains start. The baby is going to be born, no turning back. What must Mary have been thinking? Her first child, also the son of God, was being born in a barn. Would God be angry? Certainly New-Mama Mary couldn’t have been too pleased with the circumstances. There’s no indication of family or friends around to help with the birth. Joseph must have been up to his ears in worry!
The baby arrives: Perfect, peace. Joy. The pain and the confounding circumstances fall away in light of this new wonder for the world, and the angels are singing Glorias. Literally.
Recently in our staff meeting, I expressed that I am having a bit of trouble feeling ready for Christmas this year. I have been missing the warm-fuzzy feelings of Christmas in the past couple of weeks. My best friend is going through a terrible divorce, and I feel the pain of so many in my group of friends who are struggling with their health, relationships and finances. It doesn’t feel fair or easy to shrug off the sadness that surround people all around me and call this the “most wonderful time of the year.”
And yet, when I look at the story of the Holy Family through a human lens, I see that Mary and Joseph weren’t exactly in a position to call the days leading up to the first Noel a “wonderful Christmas time.” Jesus the Christ arrived in the midst of struggle, fear and plenty of worldly worry. In fact, that’s part of why he came: Jesus, our Messiah, came to embody God’s love, and deliver peace to our planet; to every single heart.
In our pain, in our fear, in our dark days, Jesus Christ is with us, steadfast and true.
On December 19th, we are taking some time in the evening to find peace in the middle of this busy season. Whether your life is stressful or going just swimmingly, we hope you’ll pause with us and take time to pray for the renewing hope and joy that Christ brings to us. I think we all hope to hear the Christmas angels telling their great, glad tidings, but some days, there is nothing but the sounds of our circumstances ringing in our ears. In these times, I want my prayer to ring out: O Come to us, abide with us, Our Lord, Emmanuel. Amen.5 months ago