Weary Travelers. Families going home. Loved ones forced apart. Harsh economic times. Injustice and hunger. No, I am not talking about 2008. I am referring to the conditions of the Lord’s birth. While Joseph and Mary and their contemporaries did not have the stress of last minute gift purchases and weather featuring snow and ice, they did face challenges far more profound. Ordered to travel to Bethlehem to partake in the census, they traveled the long road from Nazareth.
The trip would have been difficult enough in the modern day, but in that time it was best left to the providence of God to see the young couple with the pregnant young girl to their destination safely. Indeed, it was God they trusted to help them on their way. Their Christmas Eve was not one of convenience or comfort. More likely it was filled with dangers from highwaymen, natural predators, and the stress of travel in the desert climate. And when they arrived, there were no comforts to ease the pains they had experienced.
Indeed, there was no place for them at all, given the overflowing crowds due to the impending census. Mary, great with child and in the beginning pains of childbirth, had no place to rest; Joseph, desperate to ease her plight, searched for a place for her to stay. Only at the last did an Innkeeper take pity and show them to the stable behind his establishment. There, among the hay and the livestock, did they make for themselves a place to bring Jesus into the world. And the world waited in expectation; only it knew not why, save those who understood and perceived the prophecies of old.
The anticipation of advent. The hope of the child about to be born. Immanuel, God with us. Humble. Born of the Virgin. Savior of the world. We worship you, Jesus Christ.