It is mind boggling to try to wrap my thoughts around the idea of what actually transpired when Jesus was born. Think about it–the Almighty God, who fills the heavens and the earth, squeezed into the womb of a Jewish teenager and “waited it out,” growing little by little, one day at a time, just so He could show us how much he really cares for us! He could have beamed aboard Star Trek style or at least he could have arrived, suddenly, fully grown and ready to impress, like the Terminator or Mr. Bean—but he chose to come into this world just the way you and I did! While Mary carried Jesus in her womb, people “on the outside” questioned what was going on. Though Mary and Joseph saw angels, the people around them, with few exceptions, thought they smelled a rat. Thankfully for all of us, Joseph and Mary hunkered down and obeyed God even though, like Abraham, they weren’t sure what the future was going to look like.
During Mary’s 9th month of pregnancy they were on the road. Exhausted from travel, with Mary ready to pop, they couldn’t even get a motel room to have the baby in! So Jesus was born in a manger (Webster defines manger as “a box or trough to hold fodder for horses or cattle”) inside a stable in the countryside somewhere in Bethlehem. The angelic announcement must have been something to see. The only problem is the only ones to see it were a bunch of sheep herders on the fringe of society. Could it be that God was trying to tell us something? I recently read a quote from Bono of U-2:
“God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them.”
Here is my Christmas prayer: “Thank you Jesus for moving into my neighborhood, getting my attention, and saving my life!”