Summary: Jesus is Good News for you in the ’hustle and bustle’ of life and preparations for Christmas. He is also Good News for people going about their ordinary everyday business, like he was for the shepherds.
A man named Charles Tucker decided recently that with all the ‘hustle and bustle’, it would be good to remember why Christmas is a good idea. He said that without Christmas…
• The ‘dried’ fruit market would completely collapse
• Boring, uneventful lives would have no stress at all
• Santa would be a large man with no fashion sense
• Three words; “No Christmas bonus!”
• You’d have to spend your own money buying stuff that doesn’t fit
• Your cat wouldn’t know the joy of coughing up tinsel
• Number 1 reason; without Christmas there could be no Easter!
I’m ‘sorry’ if this shatters any illusions; but as Joseph and his heavily pregnant ‘wife-to-be’ Mary travelled to Bethlehem there was no choir of children singing ‘Little Donkey, little donkey on the dusty road.’
You might already be thinking, “Hey! How dare you! Bah humbug”; but in the gospel account of the birth of Jesus there is no donkey mentioned, and neither is there an innkeeper. There probably was a donkey, or donkeys, and there probably was an innkeeper, but they are not mentioned. What is mentioned is that a census was being ‘taken of the entire Roman world’ (Luke 2:1); ‘and everyone went to his own town to register’ (Luke 2:3). For Joseph that meant travelling from Nazareth to Bethlehem because he was a descendant of King David (Luke 2:4). Bethlehem was King David’s town (Luke 2:4).
So we know that people were travelling. Some, like Joseph and Mary were travelling great distances, returning to their native town or village to register their names with the authorities.
In the build up to the birth of Jesus people were travelling back to their ‘home town’.
There was therefore traffic on the roads. People were coming and going, and in Bethlehem guest houses were full (Luke 2:7).
As we think about the scene we might remember news coverage showing the lines of cars coming out of Houston before hurricane Rita hit. Thousands of people were moving along, driving, walking, and sleeping on the side of the road. People everywhere told stories about how there was no room for them when they looked for a hotel. After a week of travelling, Joseph and Mary experienced the same thing. (This Illustration was written by Kevin Higgins @ sermoncentral.com)
I wonder if December, or the last week, or perhaps for some of us the whole of this year has been a story of hustle and bustle? Long hours of driving between appointments? Preparing to travel at Christmas? Preparing the guest room? Clearing the in-tray?
Shopping, cooking, cleaning, decorating, wrapping?
The birth of Jesus took place in a smelly old cow shed in the midst of hustle and bustle. Jesus is good news in the midst of hustle and bustle, and it was Jesus himself who 30 years later spoke to a man named Nicodemus about spiritual birth: (John 3:3) Jesus wanted Nicodemus to know that a spiritual birth is required for us to enter the kingdom of God, and it’s the reason why we sing these words from the 3rd verse of ‘O little town of Bethlehem’:
O holy child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in,
Be born in us today.
Whatever hustle and bustle you might be facing, Jesus can be born in you today. Will you ask him in?
Is there room in your heart for him? Is there room in your life for him?
I love the account of the Angel of the Lord appearing to ordinary ‘working class’ shepherds (Luke 2:9). They were nothing special. They had no privileges. They had no influence amongst decision makers. They were very ordinary people who were getting on with their lives, and yet for some reason the Angel of the Lord comes to them with a massive ‘tip-off’! Understandably they were terrified (Luke 2:9). The glory of the Lord shone around them!
I don’t know about you but I’ve not had such a dramatic experience of God’s presence. However, I’ve had many reminders that God is near, that he is at work, and that he longs for us to be in relationship with him. I wonder if you recognise God’s activity in your life during this past year.
Some of you will know about the incident concerning my seven year old son Matthew, but I think it’s worth repeating:
Recently, Matthew went for his first ever ‘sleep-over’ to a friend’s house. He had a great time! When I picked him up in the morning this is what he said to me, and I quote: “Daddy, before I went to sleep last night I prayed in my head to God, “God please be with me when I move to my new house and when I go to my new school.””