Imagine a scene with me for a moment. There is a young couple named Mary and Joe in a jalopy riding down the interstate heading to somewhere, anywhere but where they come from. They’ve been sent on this journey because the government tells them they must register their identity in their hometown. They don’t have much money to travel and just hope and pray that their beaten up car will make it to their destination. Mary is pregnant, but the father is not Joe. At first Joe was angry and threatened to leave Mary, but a dream convinced him otherwise. The dream of an angel confirmed Mary’s story that she was carrying the son of God. Mary wasn’t one to lie, so he asked for her forgiveness and supported her. It had been a crazy few months that brought them to this moment in the middle of the night on the interstate. They’ve been shunned by many of their friends and hope to find a new start and some forgiveness after completing this requirement from the government.
At Mary’s insistence, Mary and Joe drive late into the night in hopes of avoiding the cost of a hotel. They arrive in the town of Bethel where they will complete the required paperwork the following day. Joe realizes that asking his pregnant wife to sleep in the car would not be kind so he begins looking for a hotel open late. All the hotels he checks are either closed for the night or full. Finally he comes to a small bed and breakfast that he would not be able to afford, but he decides to check since it’s his last option. The kind lady at the desk tells him that the rooms are all full but there is a small bed in the barn where her husband sometimes takes naps in the afternoon. She gives him several warm quilts and a space heater and apologizes for the inconvenience. Joe offers to pay, but the lady will not take any money from him.
When Joe and Mary step in the barn they are grateful for the warm quilts and space heater. The barn is smelly and drafty, but the small bed will be much better for Mary’s aching back than the cramped car. Shortly after Joe dozes, he awakes to hear Mary groaning in pain. He turns from his position on the floor to see Mary bent over double and realizes immediately that she is in labor. After Mary speaks a few calming words to him, he runs to the house to get the landlady and call an ambulance. The landlady comes and tells Joe that Mary will have that baby before the ambulance can make it. She quickly and efficiently gathers rags and water and prepares to act as midwife to this young girl. The baby arrives and the sweet face smiles so beautifully that the landlady knows this will be special child. Mary and Joe tell her their story and that the baby’s name is Jesus. He will save the world from their sins. It’s a special night.
The story above is not entirely Biblically accurate because Jesus was born in a different time when there weren’t ambulances and space heaters, but during this Christmas season I encourage you to take some time to reflect on the miracles that surrounded his birth. This year as I read the accounts of Jesus’ birth given by Matthew and Luke, I was reminded of how God worked out every little detail to bring his son into the world. He used a poor couple who had to work through a tough situation. He showed a resolved struggle between the couple even before they were married. He supplied a place of humility for the baby to be born.
Many times during this season, we search for the most expensive gifts we can afford because we want the time to be special. We decorate our house with plenty of lights and light up our fires. We plan extravagant parties with more food than we could ever consume. We hope that just for a few moments there will be no fights. In reality, even the most humble of accommodations or gifts are special. Jesus was the example of that. He was born to poor parents in a barn where there was probably low light, stench, and a lack of fresh air. His parents almost split before he was even born or they were married. This year take some time to reflect on Jesus’ first Christmas as you go through the hustle and bustle that has become our modern Christmas. When your snacks don’t look like the ones in the magazine or your wrapping paper gets ripped on the way to the party, remember that it’s the time that matters the most. Take the time to thank God for his wonderful gift and for the people he keeps giving to you.
Merry Christmas Season!