While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
I currently have one of my grandsons living with me, and I am being reminded of what it is like to live with a teenager.
Sometimes a stable would be a neater, cleaner place than a teenage boy’s room. Often times when I dare to venture into my grandson’s room there are empty plastic water bottles and soda pop cans scattered around on the desk or night stand. There may also be wadded up empty chip bags, or candy wrappers lying on the floor. It is common to see sneakers and dirty socks scattered around, and yesterday’s clothes crumpled up on the floor. So, I wonder if this is a cleaner place than a stable.
When Mary and Joseph spent the night in a stable in Bethlehem it was because they were forced into the only place available, and I am sure that they did all that they could do to make it a clean place for their baby boy to be born. As I think about the Son of God coming into this world in a stable, I am reminded of the messy world he entered. Yet, his attitude toward the world was not that he had to be given a palace. He endured the lowliest of conditions from the very beginning moments of his life on earth. He came into our human conditions of a lowly stinky stable to be born, and died on a cross like a criminal.
His growing up years were not in a fancy home, or palace either. It was in the modest home of a carpenter. From the beginning Jesus knew the meager, modest life of a small town in northern Israel.
Jesus knows the muck and mire of the worst of conditions in this world, and in our lives, and he came to earth from heaven to clean us and our lives up with his love and righteousness. His heart is broken for the poor and helpless. He reaches out to everyone of us regardless of our short comings, our situations, or the condition of our minds or our hearts.
He came to bring hope and order to our lives. Jesus is God with us—Immanuel, and he is willing and able to create order out of our chaos with his righteousness as he cleans us up from sin. Jesus came to love us in spite of our unloveliness, and in his love we are washed and cleaned up from the muck and mire that sin creates.
As we continue to celebrate Jesus’ birth in that lowly stable in Bethlehem, let us give thanks to God for his Son who brings order and hope and peace into our lives. May we share his love with others so that they may know the joy of a relationship with Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
- What messes has Jesus cleaned up in your life?
- How do you see Jesus creating order out of the chaos you may have experienced in life?
- How do you share God’s love every day with others?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.