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A Roman census and taxing forced the town of Bethlehem to burst at its seams. Neither the locals nor the visitors would have been very happy about the decree. Tempers were short, words were spoken in anger, people were taken advantage of, and rooms were at a premium. Mary was obviously in labor when she and Joseph arrived. But there was no hospital. There was no birthing center. There were no vacancies anywhere in town. There was just a stable, full of the other travelers’ sweaty, tired animals. Joseph had to be completely frustrated at the circumstances. Was this any way to celebrate the first Christmas?

Ever have Christmases like that? Too many expectations, too little time, too few dollars, too many hurt feelings. Despite our best efforts to hit the artificially high goal of a perfect Christmas, we always seem to miss the mark. Any number of things spoils our preconceived notions of the holiday:

Not enough money;

Ruined relationships; or

The illness or death of a loved one.

Another Christmas winds up being scuttled. But it does not have to be that way! Let’s take our eyes and emotions off all the trappings of a secular holiday and return to the holy day where we not only remember a manger, but we remember a cross, a tomb, and a resurrection.

Let’s not be afraid or ashamed to make some noise about the wonder and blessing of the coming of God in the flesh! Let’s celebrate Bethlehem!

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