Life Notes—December 20, 2012
“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.” Luke 2:6-7
Not surprisingly, we romanticize the conditions under which Jesus was born. We attempt to recreate cozy manger scenes based on what we consider rustic-ness worthy of a King—sort of like a western-style resort, with rough logs for beams and exposed stone walls and granite floors. Rustic; but in a luxurious way. We dress up adorable children to play the parts of Joseph, Mary, the shepherds and the wise men. We wrap the baby in soft, warm blankets. It is all very quant and warm and peaceful, and every character has its proper place in the scene.
But it is also misleading. The most likely reality is that their “stable” was a cave—the only available place offering any shelter at all from the elements. And not the big, expansive, well-lit caves we toured as children with our families. But a cramped, dark, dank hole in a hill. They likely shared the available space with farm animals, as well as their waste. The “manger” would not have been a quaint, hand-crafted cradle, sized just for a baby—it was a feeding trough for the animals. The “bands of cloth” were not soft, warm blankets, but most likely scratchy, burlap-like strips.
Jesus was born in a small, smelly, cold and noisy cave. To the extent there were homeless people in that day, Jesus was born where they would’ve been banished to spend the night—in the leftover, undesirable, last-ditch places where no one with any means would consider staying. There was no place at the inn for the baby Jesus.
Advent is a time to consider where Jesus will find a place to live in us. Will it be the leftover moments at the end of occasional days? Will he be the easily-overlooked item on our to-do list? Will we give him our last moments of consciousness before drifting off to sleep? If so, we treat him as he was treated from birth—as an inconvenient afterthought. Or, will we make room in our days to nurture a real relationship? Will we speak to him throughout our days? Will we consult him as we make our life decisions, both large and small? If so, we will raise him to the throne in our lives he was born to ascend. This is Advent, and it is time to decide where our Christ-child will reside.
This will be the last Sunday of Advent. Tom preaches downtown where Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00. Mitch preaches at the west campus where worship is at 9 and 11.
Come home to church this Sunday. Where is Jesus’ place in your inn?
Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator