"While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby. She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn." Luke 2:6-7
Have you ever noticed all the background information included in Luke's build-up to Jesus' birth? An emperor, a governor, a tax census, a responsible citizen, and a pregnant mother. All these details as well as names of towns and regions are acknowledged in the first five verses of Luke 2. It is as if Luke wants to make clear to his readers, "This really happened!" Embedded in the story are real people in history and real places on the map to confirm its occurrence.
Then, in just two verses, Luke presents the story of the birth itself. What we get in that brief telling, though, is a tender, intimate description. Like a good Boomerang video, it repeats itself over and over in our minds: Mary gave birth...wrapped him snugly...laid him in a manger.
Do you see it? Do you see the travel-worn mother bending over the trough of hay? Looking into the eyes of this child born to save the world?
Do you see it? Do you see the infant, vulnerable and cold and hungry? Do you see him as he was on that first night?
The newborn baby will grow up quickly in our minds. Just a couple of weeks from now, we will have entered a new year, and the church's lectionary readings will rush ahead to remember Jesus as a young adult, baptized and announcing God's kingdom.
But for the next few days, take a little time to remember that first night. Remember the outrageous truth that Jesus entered the world dependent on a teenage mom and her dutiful fiancée the carpenter. Embrace the child. Welcome the one who comes to be Emmanuel, God with us.
I look forward to seeing you this weekend for our last Sunday in Advent and then on Monday for Christmas Eve. Click here to see the schedule of services for the evening. And if you're out of town, you can join us online here at 4:30, 6:30, or 9:00.
Waiting with great expectations,