A Christmas Eve reflection on Luke 2:1-20
We come to this night ready to exhale. Aren’t we, in these more quiet moments of the Christmas season, ready to set aside all the stress and worry that mounts upon us so easily.
In these late moments and hours of Christmas Eve, when all the busy-ness of the last month begins to fall away, we encounter the great promise that it holds and we are confronted by the amazing reality that God has chosen—continues to choose—to enter our lives, to enter this world. To be born just as we were born.
Mary and Joseph were traveling. On their way to their old hometown of Bethlehem. They were to be counted and taxed and registered. This was the year of the census, and everyone made their way back home to be enrolled. It was not an option but a requirement.
Mary was about to pop. Bethlehem was packed with people because of the census. All the inns were booked. There was no place for Joseph and Mary to stay. Imagine neon lights flashing “no vacancy”.
This was no time for her water to break. This was not the place for this to happen. Mary deserves to give birth in the comfort of her own home, to hear her baby’s first cries echo off the walls of her own bedroom. Bethlehem was all hustle and bustle.
This was not the time for this baby to come. But God doesn’t choose a calm time to come among us. Jesus doesn’t come to us when we’re ready for him—when we think our hearts are in perfect shape for his arrival, when we think we have it all together. Jesus shows up right in the middle of our everyday obligations, our work-a-day mess—Mary’s and Joseph’s and ours.
It is in the chaos of our lives that Jesus comes. And it doesn’t matter if we have a perfect room all ready for him to be born into. Jesus comes anyway. It doesn’t matter if we think our lives are holy enough for him. Jesus comes anyway. It doesn’t matter if we think the amenities are suitable enough. Jesus comes anyway.
All that matters is that there is room, room at all, room in us for Christ to be born.
Tonight, God asks us to be the room that Christ is born into.
Being a shepherd was for the lowliest of people. Shepherds were peasants, forced to live on the outskirts of their town, far way from everyone else.
Shepherds earned nothing but the respect of their sheep, and they smelled just as bad as their sheep. They were the some of the poorest people in those days. These shepherds grazed the land outside of Bethlehem. The fields were their bed and their sheep their pillows.
These lowly people are the first to pay any notice to Christ’s birth. Among the hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of those in town for the census, it is a couple shepherds out in the middle of nowhere who had ears to hear and eyes to see that God had entered into the world.
It was the shepherds to whom the angels announced Jesus’ birth. Did the angels try to tell anyone else? Did their message fall on deaf ears? Were these shepherds more receptive than anyone else to the astounding and unlikely news that the angels came to share? Could it be that these shepherds were the only ones around who had room to receive God’s message and believe?
Lowly shepherds keeping watch over their flocks in the middle of that holy night. The only ones who had room to welcome a savior.
Tonight we ask, do we have that room inside of us?
We are the place that Christ is born into. It is our lives that God now uses to give birth to Christ in the world. It is the room inside our words that tell of God’s love. It is inside the room of our actions that Christ becomes known to others. It is inside the room of our hearts that Christ lives.
This Christmas Eve, let us pray that we would be the room God uses.
O Holy Jesus, be born in us, we pray!