Summary: In simplicity Jesus came and in simplicity we celebrate his birth and our hope.
Title: A Christmas Eve Meditation
Text: Luke 1:1-14
Thesis: In simplicity Jesus came… and in simplicity we celebrate his birth and our hope.
A year ago, Bonnie and I were returning home from visiting our family in Chicago. It was cold and the weather turned bitter. The roads became ice covered and traffic came to a stand still. We crept along until we were able to exit at Grand Island, Nebraska where we able to get a room at the Holiday Inn Express. We felt very fortunate.
At about 4:30 A. M. the next morning the whole area experienced a power outage… restaurants could not cook food and gas stations could not pump gas. Everyone was encouraged to leave as soon as possible so they could lock up the “village inn” until the power came back on. We were told that there was electricity about six miles down the interstate, where we could get services. It wasn’t so… We drove approximately sixty miles before we found a community with electricity.
Being stranded under any circumstances is something less than desirable. I think the only thing that would have made it more tenuous was if we were traveling with small children or, as in the case of Mary and Joseph, in need of a hospital with a good obstetrician on staff.
In our story Joseph and Mary find themselves stranded and out in the cold… and if that was not enough, Mary was pregnant.
1. She was obviously pregnant at the time
Because Joseph was a descendant of David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea… he took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was obviously pregnant by this time. Luke 1:1-5
Our story actually begins some months earlier when the Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to go ahead and marry Mary, despite the fact that she was pregnant… seemingly out of wedlock and a with a child that was not his. However, assured that her conception was as theologians call it, a Divine or Immaculate Conception, Joseph took Mary as his wife. Several months have passed and it is tax time.
We think this was kind of an unusual time of year to be going to pay one’s taxes, but we are reminded that this was not Christmas Eve to Joseph and Mary… it was more like our April 14th.
Despite the fact that Mary was well along in her pregnancy, she traveled with Joseph to Bethlehem. It must have been interesting conversation… I wonder if Mary said, “You’re not leaving me home alone in this condition!” Or if they thought they would make it home before the baby was born, or if they were “go with the flow” folks who figured, if the baby come, he comes!
In any case, when they arrived at Bethlehem, a village five miles south of Jerusalem… about a two and a half hour walk from Jerusalem to Nativity Square in Bethlehem, Mary went into labor and she was going to have the baby right then and there, but where?
2. Jesus was born under the most humble of circumstances.
Though the city is around thirty-thousand today… we assume it was a small village because, as something of an after thought, Luke wrote, “While they were there the time came for her baby to be born. And she wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for him in the village inn.” Luke 1:6-7
It is nice to know they at least had a Village Inn. It would have been nice if they had a Perkins or a Denny’s or maybe a Waffle House too. There was apparently one inn in the village where travelers could get a good meal to eat and a place to sleep.
A Sunday School teacher retold one of those memorable Sunday School teacher stories in which she told the story of the birth of Jesus. She noted that they were looking for a place to stay, much like we look for a motel room when we travel. She asked her class of 1st graders, “There was no room for the in the inn, but guess what out behind the inn?” One eager little guy waved his hand in the air and blurted out, “A swimming pool!”
It was the height of tax time, all of the rooms were booked and Joseph but Joseph and Mary were allowed to bunk in the barn out behind the inn… and that is where Jesus was born.
Last Sunday the Denver Post ran a story, “Fab homes, fat wallets opening to rents and ravs: For $20,000 a night, you too can find a stairway to heaven.” Aspen Red Mountain Estate offers seven bedrooms, and baths, a gourmet kitchen, Jacuzzi, theater system, fully equipped exercise room. All ensconced in aa gorgeous 12,000 square-foot chalet. The holiday rental rates for the house are $20,000 a night, $200,000 for the month, or you can opt for the off-season rate of $15,000 a night. The writer noted that most of us would be happy to find a room with a mint on the pillow… (William Porter, The Denver Post, 12/16/07)