In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 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.
Now these words from the Bible seem familiar. The time must be almost here!
Luke offers us the story about a big world where big things are happening. Everybody is on the move to get to their birthplace. It’s not an easy thing to do in Mary and Joseph’s day. Look where they’re going: to a famed place where Scriptures everyone knows says great things will happen there someday. But after riding three days they are as tired as if you had just driven to Minneapolis from Greensboro. There’s nothing glorious appearing on the horizon, and Mary is about to fall asleep standing up! They take the only place they can find when they get to town and rather than complain, they make the best of it. So, with that, the best thing happens: they have their first child.
Remember your first child? Your first brother or sister? Your first day after something came along to make you believe you had lived a miracle?
That feeling of being without words to explain how you felt was how it was for this young couple. You can count on that. Exploring that same feeling which you had once upon a time, is what today is all about. You couldn’t put it into words then (when it happened) and you may not be able to name it or describe it today. But that feeling is what God wants you to grab hold of. God says, “This is what I will do for all people. Remember this, if you can,” God declares, “for you can choose to treasure this in your heart to remember in the days when you can’t imagine this ever could happen to you.”
Lord, in just 3 days, everyone here with me with celebrate your coming. Not just a birth that made those in Israel deliriously happy for their time, but a child who comes to change the world, set things right, give me hope on days when life feels dim and filled with dismay. Teach me to treasure Luke’s short story in my heart. Amen.