Friday, December 20, 2013

Home for Christmas? 20

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us

Luke 2.1-7

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 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.

At the heart of the Christmas story is a family for whom there is no room. Their child must lie in an animal's feeding trough. We don't know how much historical truth there is in Luke's account of Jesus' birth - there is certainly no record of a census like that he describes - but the stories of the birth of people who later become great were often intended more to signpost the themes of their later lives than to give an accurate picture. Luke would probably have known people who had met Jesus and could bear witness to the kind of person he was. His account of the birth of Jesus points to the way in which, as an adult gave especial priority to those who were in some way outsiders, treated as superfluous to the world's requirements, people for whom there was also "no place". 

The tenderness evoked in us by this story of a vulnerable baby born in a cold and indifferent world is a reminder of God's love for those who are vulnerable in our world today, including ourselves, and his call to us to love the vulnerable too.

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