And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed… And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; because he was of the house and lineage of David. To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1, 3-7)
Crowd.to press, cram, or force tightly together,
to put Pressure on
Running, bumping, pushing and shoving
Busy, busy, everyone is rushing.
So many visitors in Bethlehem that night,
but, something was strange about this family’s blight.
We didn’t have a room, but he was quite insistent.
Imagine traveling in that condition –
a young man and his wife about to deliver.
She was already cold and starting to shiver.
The inn was all full, not a single bed open.
I know that our stable was not what they were hoping.
My wife and I helped her when it was time for the birth,
and she bore the pain bravely, for the babe had more worth.
They watched Him for hours, seeing something almost wise,
like they saw the face of God when they looked into His eyes.
I never would have believed in the bustle of that night
that we would find such stillness in a tiny infant’s light.
The others without time to wonder what they missed
didn’t see the face that tears had barely kissed,
but, we were reluctant witnesses to an evening filled with awe,
and the busy-ness of our hearts was stilled by what we saw.
Born in a barn. How odd. There, in an animal stall with it’s hay and manure, it was not exactly a scene that commanded attention. And, by our estimation, it was not a scene fit for a Baby King. I’ve been in barns. I wouldn’t want to lay my Baby Girl there. Yet, by God’s estimation, it was the chosen spot. The Sovereign Babe had been crowded out by so many other travelers, busy about their tasks. The Savior of the world had arrived, and there was “no room in the inn.”
A good friend sent me some comments on my recent dignity post, and they really resonated with my hopes for this season. It was another reminder to pay “intense” attention in our homes so that the important messages aren’t crowded out. “It is so easy to get caught up in the endless urgency of mothering and miss the quiet, yet intensely important moments,” she said (you know who you are My Fair Lamb–“composition-challenged?” Harumph!) Truth revealed. Don’t we live in a world of “endless urgency?” Each activity, mode of entertainment, and work task is vying to be heard above the din. Each voice is screaming to be louder than the next. Especially at Christmas time, our schedules are filled with events and to-dos clamouring to get to the top of our priority list. Quietness is sometimes lost. The moment, the experience, the person that is not able or willing to shout is sometimes lost. As Karol Ladd wrote in her book, The Power of a Positive Mom, the most important thing (or person) is not always the one screaming the loudest.
Mary’s moment of pregnant urgency crashed head-on into Bethlehem’s bulging flow of urgent travelers. Who knew that the Christ child was about to be born? No doubt if there had been an ad placed in the Bethlehem Times announcing “New King Born Tonight – Free Drinks,” many would have lined up for tickets. If a media consultant had sent flyers promising “New King Campaign Rally — Featured Speaker: Joe the Carpenter, t-shirts and bumper stickers for sale, sponsorships available,” many would have raised their signs and cheered. If the local talk show had announced “Virgin Birth — Live on Monday — Vote for a boy or girl in our on-line poll,” millions would have tuned in.
But, God did not choose to clothe Himself in flesh that way. Salvation was not designed to be a spectacle. The God of the universe does not desire to compete to be seen or heard. No wonder His birth assembled such an odd blend of worshippers. I hope I would have been one of them. I hope I’ll choose to be one of them now, this day, this afternoon.
His birth calls me to be still. Listen. See.