This morning at Walmart was Chaos. You might wonder why I chose to go to Walmart this close to Christmas but I was determined to pick up the lowest priced Nutella in town and Walmart was where I had to go. There were people everywhere! People where pushing and shoving with large carts filled to the brim. It was insane. Honest to goodness I watched a scooter showdown this morning as two older people tried to go down the same aisle. I thought they where going to kill each other! The only quiet aisle in the store was the Nutella aisle. I really think people are missing out on something great.
All the Chaos got me thinking about Christmas and what Christmas really is. What would it have been like when the baby actually arrived? Would Jesus have every thought his birthday would turn into this?
They might have arrived in Bethlehem itself around dinner. Tired and weary from the long journey, Mary was likely starting to feel the pains of childbirth and Joseph wanted to help her find some sort of comfort. He tried the Inn. The Inn itself was bustling. There where people pouring out of the doors. Drinks where overflowing in the dinning room. Everywhere Joseph looked there was chaos. No one noticed a lone man struggling to find anywhere for his wife to give birth. Finally out of the corner of his eye the Innkeeper noticed him fighting for help. Unable to give him a room at the Inn, he sent them to the stables.
Now Joseph might have been discouraged but his disappointment wouldn’t have lasted long as he realized Mary was more uncomfortable. She was trying to hold it together but a tear ran down her face and he could sense she was scared. He led her into the stable. Looking for a clean area with fresh straw he made a bed for her. He grabbed the blankets and water they had left from the trip, helped her to her bed and they both settled in for what would have been a difficult ordeal. Men didn’t help deliver babies, usually there were woman to do those things. Joseph had no idea what to expect. Mary was young and it was her first child. They were both scared. Both frightened. Both feeling very alone.
As they sat scared in the stable, the town was filled with action. Mary and Joseph could hear the party from the inn move into the streets. As people worked their way back to where they were staying, as family and friends met each other outside, Mary and Joseph could hear the joy and excitement in their voices.
Soon those voices no longer mattered as the baby arrived. Mary and Jesus were quickly cleaned up with Joseph’s help. Expertly she swaddled her baby, a skill she’d learned from countless years of assisting her mother. After feeding him, then gently rocking him to sleep she found herself hit with exhaustion. Joseph looking for anywhere to place the baby found a Manger at the end of the room and dragged it towards her. Stuffing it with fresh straw, covering it with blankets and gently taking the sleeping Jesus from her arms, he watched as Mary drifted into sleep. Joseph placed Jesus in the manger. Sitting there he might have wondered who this baby was? What he was going to do? Who would this baby be?
In Bethlehem that night, very few knew about the baby. And granted I did take some artistic license in retelling the story. Later that evening after all the struggle Mary and Joseph went through, some Shepherd arrived from the fields to celebrate with them. But the vast majority of people did not know the significance of that day. Today’s Christmas experience is not unlike that of the first Christmas. Today most people go about their business and rejoice in the family gatherings, the parties and the general merriment of the occasion but they don’t realize the reason Christmas exists. They push aside the baby who would grow into a man who would save us.
As believers we’ve been given the gift of Jesus. We know the baby. We know the man. Are we like the Shepherds, spreading the good news? Do we want to share the message or do we keep it to ourselves? This Christmas I want to share the good news.