“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Luke 2:4-7 (NIV)
Trying to get ready for Christmas, I read these words last week. A lot has been made about the simple, humble beginning of Christ's time here on earth. The fact that the Savior of the World was placed in a manager. Born out back in the barn.
Beyond that image, even the way the whole event is relayed stresses the simplicity. First (at least as far as I can tell), Luke is the only Biblical author who really talks about the birth. Matthew tells us about the angel visiting Joseph, mentions that the child was born and named Jesus, and then picks up with the visit of the magi. Mark skips right to John the Baptist baptizing in the desert region and Jesus being baptized in the Jordan. John basically starts at the same point. I find it fascinating that the details surrounding this world changing event that we celebrate tomorrow are not more widely reported.
Past that, the images that Luke shares are straightforward - "she gave birth to her firstborn, a son." That's it. To the point. No "and so the son of God was brought into this world"; no "and so the salvation of all who believe began"; "no "and thus everything was changed forever."
The simplicity, when viewed in contrast to the hustle and bustle, run from one place to the next, have to bake dozens of cookies, stressful time of year that we have turned it into, really speaks to me.
But, what I have thought about the most since reading those words is the last phrase "because there was no room for them in the inn." Thinking about the opportunity that I have every day (but most particularly tomorrow) to celebrate the coming of Christ, thinking about the opportunities that I have to welcome Him into my heart, and thinking about how many times I essentially say – “sorry, there is no room.” Thinking about how many times I relegate Him to a small corner of my heart, like the barn out back. The story of the birth of Jesus is interesting and powerful when viewed solely as an account of historical events. It is much more sobering and difficult when viewed as an account of current events.
So, as the carol says, “let every heart prepare Him room.” Let’s not push Jesus out back, or into a corner of our hearts. Let’s not tell Him that there is no room in the inn. As we celebrate His birth anew, let’s change that. Make all the room that we can. Open our hearts fully to Him and warmly invite Him in. Today, tomorrow and every day after that.
Merry Christmas everyone!