And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths
and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2:6-7
This is just two verses and yet it contains so much truth and joy! We enter the scene as Mary, nearly nine months pregnant, travels with her fiance to a strange town to be registered with the government. This scene is already scandalous because Mary and Joseph are not married, and yet Mary’s growing stomach causes the world to question her purity. I don’t know if she traveled with her head hung low because of the constant whispering about her situation, or with her head high, knowing she was carrying an incredibly precious package. Either way, it is safe to say she drew unfriendly glances. While on this journey, Mary began having contractions. I can imagine Joseph trying to comfort Mary as they went not to the hospital, but to the hotel. But not even the inn is available. So they go to a stable. Its cold outside and the stable is drafty, not to mention smelly (I mean animals lived there!) It is unsanitary, uncomfortable, and unfitting for a king. Yet this is where Jesus was born. Mary laid him in a trough filled with hay. There was no doctor, no epidural, no APGAR scores, no blanket, no extended family, no baby showers, and no comforts. To an onlooker it may have seemed like a pitiful and saddening scene. However, it was anything but! It was in this ordinary stable that royalty was born.
One of the beautiful things in Scripture is that God takes ordinary things and makes them extraordinary. He took a stable and made it a palace. He took water and made it a cleansing river of life. He took bread and wine and made them symbols of redemption. In turn, it is our job not to allow such extraordinary things to become common again. No matter how many times we celebrate Christmas, it should take our breaths away to think that Jesus, who created the cosmos, was born as a baby. A baby who was totally dependent upon his parents for clothing and nourishment. This baby would grow to live perfectly and die for our shortcomings. This is our only hope in life and death. And it all started with a young girl with birth pangs in a stable…
I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas as you strive to remember that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father,
full of grace and truth.” John 1:14.