It's the middle of January. A little late for a Christmas story, I know. But, this one has been percolating in my head for several weeks; a nagging detail to a well-known Christmas story that just wouldn't leave me alone. And, suddenly, today, it all made sense. And, I had to share. Today. It can't wait another twelve months to be posted at the "appropriate" time of the year. Today. It can't wait. Good news rarely can.
"...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 2:7
I cringe at the idea that our sweet Jesus was born in a stable. A stable. Where big, smelly animals are kept for the night. Mary wrapped him in cloths. I shudder to think about where she got the cloths for which to wrap baby Jesus. Something tells me she didn't reach into her donkey saddle bag and tear open the three-pack of blue and green striped receiving blankets someone had given her off her registry at Babies R Us. She placed him in a manger. A feed trough. The word manger begins with 'mange,' and I fear our precious Savior was subject to it and any number of other hygiene-related issues as He began His glorious earthly existence. Glorious, indeed. Perhaps the true miracle of the birth of Jesus has to do more with what He overcame being born in a stable out back of a perfectly good, warm inn and placed in a feeding trough under the stouts and mouths of livestock animals.
It seems to me that what we, as Christians, can take from the story in Luke is that Christ overcame the stable. Hallelujah!
For three weeks I have been contemplating this; unable to shake the idea that I was missing something. Something big. Something greater.
If the inn keeper had ushered Joseph and Mary into the inn, perhaps giving up his own sleeping quarters for them; if Joseph had been able to ask the maid to bring extra towels and blankets to warm the newborn baby; if a doctor that were staying in the inn for the night had been called to assist, would the story of Christ's birth be any less than what it is as we know it? Would it change anything?
Jesus, being the Son of God, deserved the inn. It was the best there was, and Jesus deserved the best. But, God, in His infinite wisdom knew that there would be people like me who would have trouble getting over the fact that her best would never be as good as Jesus deserves. So, God prepared a stable and willed His Son to be born there so that thousands of years later, I could understand that a stable doesn't make Jesus any less wonderful, any less capable, any less God.
I confess that my life - my physical, emotional, and spiritual dwelling - is a stable. My life is full of stinky animals, and nasty germs, and rarely has the supplies needed to accomplish anything. But, Jesus was reborn in me, this stable, and He is no less wonderful, no less capable, and no less God.
What we, as Christians, can take from the story in Luke is not that Jesus overcame the stable, but that He came in spite of the stable. He came to bring life, and life more abundant, and He started in a stable.
There was no room in the inn because it was the stable that was ordained. A stable could not keep Him from being and doing what God ordained, nor does my broken and ill-fitted life keep Him from being and doing what God ordained in me.
A stable. This I can understand. A stable, I relate to.
Thank God there was no room in the inn.