Summary: Christmas is more than a date on a calendar, the potential of Christmas has a lasting impact
Introduction: A woman was frantically going through her Christmas “To Do List”, when she discovered she had not sent her Christmas Cards out to her friends and family.
Rushing to the local card store she found an appropriate set of cards and mailed them out just in time to guarantee Christmas Eve delivery.
A few days later she opened the inside of the card to read the message she had sent to her friends and associates. She was shocked to discover her Christmas card was not a Christmas card but a Christmas announcement which read;
THIS IS SIMPLY A NOTE TO SAY – A CHRISTMAS GIFT IS ON THE WAY!
We have to admit it things are getting a little confusing this time of the year.
After all there are gifts to buy, parties to attend, relatives to see and cookies to be made – Christmas gets very busy, but probably no Christmas was busier than the first Christmas. After all, all of Rome was participating in a great census; Luke records the scene this way…
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. Luke 2:1-3
Imagine what was happening suddenly the entire Roman Empire is involved in Mass Transit. Vs. 3 tells us everyone went to his own home town to register. Rich and Poor, people of influence and those who were seemingly insignificant were all on the road trying to fulfill their obligation to Rome.
Now while Luke tells us everyone was being counted, was focused on one peasant family from Nazareth.
Luke 2:4-7, So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and 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.
Luke gives us very little detail about the journey – he tells us the starting point – Nazareth and the stopping point – Bethlehem.
In all actuality the trip would have been very difficult. The distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem was approximately 90 miles, if they could travel three miles an hour for 10 hours each day it would take 3 days to make the trip. Imagine a women pregnant in her 9th month, walking 10 hours a day
Once they arrived in Bethlehem, they discovered all the rooms were filled to capacity – there was no place to rest from their travels.
Not finding any room would have been fine for Joseph, he would have slept in the town square along with other men who were traveling to Bethlehem, but Joseph had a wife, and sleeping in the town square was not an option.
Luke does not tell of a long search for a place to stay or of an insensitive innkeeper who made Mary and Joseph stay outdoors. In fact an innkeeper is never mentioned in the account of the birth of Jesus. The text merely describes the arrival in simple terms: 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.
Max Lucado described the birth of Jesus this way… (“God Came Near”)
It happened in a moment, a most remarkable moment. This moment was like none other. For in a moment God became a man. While the creatures of earth walked unaware, Divinity arrived. The all powerful became breakable. The one who was larger than the universe became an embryo. The one who sustains the earth chose to be dependent upon the nourishment of a young girl.
God as a fetus; Holiness in a womb, the creator of life, now a part of creation
That moment went unnoticed by the world. No fanfare from kings, no public announcement in the town square. But it was a moment that changed the world.
In Luke the 2nd Chapter we realize the potential of Christmas, what can happen through the power of one.
One angel – Gabriel who told both Mary and Joseph they were going to have a special Child
One man – Joseph, who chose to look past the traditions and rules and graciously took Mary as his wife.
One woman – Mary who asked how can this be, and then responded "I am the Lord’s servant, May it be to me as you have said."