Nearly there! All is ready. Mary and Joseph have arrived in Bethlehem. Our presents have been wrapped; cards have been sent and received. Just a final push…
The actual birth was a very ordinary affair. Most families at the time lived very simply, often sharing their accommodation with household animals for warmth, so being born in a stable would not necessarily been regarded as much of a hardship. There was ‘no room in the inn’ – but the ‘inn’ would not have been a luxury hotel, even if there had been room! There was no great ceremony, no fanfare. Luke’s report is almost bare in its simplicity:
A decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered… All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son, and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2:1 & 3-7.
That was the physical context of his birth. Contrast it with the overwhelming significance and enormous theological implications of these events at the opening of St John’s Gospel:
‘The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen is glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth’. John 1:14. Later, John writes: ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life’. John 3:16.
This was the mystery of the incarnation – God became Human. And yet it all took place in the simplest of lodgings, away from home, no fuss, nothing out of the ordinary. There is much to reflect on! Here is a short prayer to welcome our Lord:
God and Man, remind us daily that your manger is in our hearts, and help us to always find joy in cradling you there. Amen.