Summary: A Christmas Eve message for to honor our Lord who was born of very, humble means.
Have you ever heard it said to you: “Were you born in a barn?” Or maybe this variation – “You weren’t born in a barn – shut the door!” I tell ya what; I use to hear that said a lot growing up – either referring to that I had left the door open, or that my room was becoming something of a pig sty, and that I needed to get it cleaned.
And this is such a universal saying too – one that I know I have passed down to my children – reciting it far too often I am afraid, for I cannot tell you how many times one of my children has inadvertently left the door open when rushing into the house after a long day at school. (They just love it ya know when I pick on em).
Now, I am sure none of you have ever heard that said to you – right? Have you ever wondered where that expression came from? From all the sources online that I have read, folklore says that the phrase originally was said “Were you born in Bardney?” But what was Barney you might be asking.
Bardney Abbey was a Benedictine monastery founded in 697 in Northern England. Legend says that some years after King (and Saint) Oswald of Northumbria was killed in battle, his bones were delivered to the abbey by his niece, but the gates to the Monetary were kept closed, barring entrance. Legend says that night a light shone down from above and fell upon St Oswald’s bones, illuminating them outside the locked gates – it was a sign to the monks inside the gated abbey that indeed, this man truly was a saint. The gates were quickly opened to allow Saint Oswald’s remains to enter. From that point on, the gates of Bardney Abbey stayed open. This gave rise to the phrase, “Do you come from Bardney,” which meant that a door was left open. Later, Bardney was shortened to “barn.”
Now, who knows how much truth there really is in this folk lore legend – but nevertheless, the story is certainly interesting – and it at least has a spiritual element to it. Despite the modern origins of the idiom “born in a barn”, there’s one whom history claims as truth we know who was born in less than ideal circumstances – in fact, we could easily say that He was “born in a barn.”
I would like to invite you to please join me in reading the Gospel of Luke once again, please turn with me to page 1590 in the pew bibles in the pew racks in front of you, to read of the one who was born in barn, the Lord Jesus Christ.
RE-READ THE GOSPEL – LUKE 2.1-14
Jesus was born of humble means. Luke 2.7 says “she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Scripture mentions how Mary and Joseph were travelling from Nazareth to Bethlehem – they were not residents of Bethlehem, and thus should have been afforded a decent amount of hospitality from Bethlehem’s residents – because they were travelling guests. Let me explain
Now, our culture was different from that the customs of Jesus’ times. In Jesus’ era, to not be hospitable was a considered a serious cultural (and religious) offence, and an affront before God and the Law. But, Biblical Hospitality was more than just a custom and religiously lawful. It was first and foremost considered a demonstration of faithfulness. And though hospitality was extended to all, a particular responsibility existed to provide for one’s own family and for God’s servants (like Mary and Joseph).
Specifically to the Gospel, It is believed Bethlehem’s inn may have been a fairly simple lodging-place. It was probably not a guestroom in a private house, as no name is given, and the responsibility to provide hospitality to travelling strangers or family and friends may have rested on the entire village.
Yet, there was no room for them at the Inn…. Curious isn’t it!?! And although Scripture and other historical manuscripts to testify of Ceasar’s census, the responsibility to Bethlehem’s residents to provide shelter and hospitality is lacking, and curious. With this all in mind, we need to ask, what was going on in Joseph’s on home town where the hospitality that was so expectant, was so lacking, that Mary had to give birth to Jesus in a barn?
In speaking of barns, the Greek word being used here for manger also translates as a stable, or better yet, a place to keep horses, nearby or in contrast, to a place for humans to stay. Now, I am sure most of us can claim that we weren’t born in a stable or nearby were horses are birthed – but according to the Luke’s eyewitness testimony– Jesus was born – fully human – in the most humbling of means – in a stable.