Part 11 of a series counting down to Christmas and the Messiah’s Birth
It’s early Christmas morning, really early, and I’m the first one up. Perhaps it’s my childhood muscle memory; all those gifts just begging to be opened. I’m in Houston, so there isn’t any snow and it’s too warm for a fire, but it matters not. When it comes to Christmas, I’m a hopeless romantic. For Mary and Joseph, well, it was probably different for them.
They made it to Bethlehem. It was long, difficult, and exhausting, especially for Mary. As they approached the village, they surely were looking forward to good food, a warm room, and a comfortable bed. But it wasn’t to be, for the inn was full. The exchange might have been like this: The inn keeper, “I’m sorry folks, but we’re booked solid.” Then Joseph, “You don’t understand, we’ve traveled so far and my wife is so close to the birth. You must have something?” “Well,” said the inn keeper, “it isn’t much but you’re welcome to stay out back with the sheep and donkeys. I can give you some blankets and food.” Joseph looked at Mary, thought for a moment, and said, “Okay, we’ll take it.”
The time had come for the birth. Was this how Mary imagined it, in a cold, dirty, stinking stall? But the time had come. Those words referred not only to Mary’s condition but the condition of the world. For the world desperately needed the one she was about to deliver. Was it a difficult delivery, long and painful, or quick and easy? Or something else?
Whatever the conditions, however the delivery, the Savior of the world was born. Joseph cut the cord, wrapped him in cloth, and placed the baby in his mother’s arms. The Messiah was warmed by the brave young woman God had chosen. Was all of heaven weeping in joyous celebration? Were angels rejoicing in glorious praise? Was our Heavenly Father beaming with pride? Certainly Joseph must have been; and I hope there was someone to say, “Congratulations, it’s a boy!”
But of course it was a boy, for his bride was with child by the power of the Spirit. The angel said that the virgin would give birth to a son, named Jesus, and would be called Emmanuel. It was a silent night, a holy night, a night illuminated by the brightest star. The infant King slept in heavenly peace, for he was the Prince of Peace. At long last, God had done it, He had finally come near.
It’s early Christmas morning, really early, and in a few minutes I will be surrounded by the family I love. And in spite of Houston’s heat, I’ll crank the AC down, turn the fireplace on, and celebrate the greatest gift of all.