During the month of December, it is easy to get lost in all the pressure and hoopla of the Christmas season. I find it helpful to take a bit of time away just to gaze at the manger scene and to consider what happened at that wondrous event.
I would like to share with you a brief story and a couple of short poems that I hope may renew your sense of wonder over what happened in Bethlehem many year ago.
Reader’s Digest once shared this story from John Timpson:
“A small boy was bitterly disappointed at not being cast as Joseph in the school Nativity play. He was given the minor role of the innkeeper instead, and throughout the weeks of rehearsal he brooded on how he could avenge himself on his successful rival.
“Came the day of the performance. Joseph and Mary made their entrance and knocked on the door of the inn. The innkeeper opened it a fraction and eyed them coldly.
“‘Can you give us board and lodging for the night?’ pleaded Joseph, who then stood back awaiting the expected rebuff. But the innkeeper had not pondered all those weeks for nothing. He flung the door wide, beamed genially, and cried, ‘Come in, come in. You shall have the best room in the hotel.’
“There was a pause; then with great presence of mind, the youthful Joseph said to Mary, ‘Hold on. I’ll take a look inside first.’ He peered past the innkeeper, shook his head firmly and announced, ‘I’m not taking my wife into a place like that. Come on, Mary, we’ll sleep in the stable.’ With that, the plot was back on course.”
I enjoy the humor of that story, but the truth of Christmas is that God did come into the very mess of our world to be with us where we are, and He does not shy away from any abode that welcomes Him in.
This short poem expresses it well:
“A little child, a shining star.
A stable rude, the door ajar.
Yet in that place, so crude, forlorn,
The Hope of all the world was born.”
I love the way Carl Sandburg says it:
“A baby slung in a feedbox back in a barn, in a Bethlehem slum.
A baby’s first cry mixed with the crunch
Of a mule’s teeth on Bethlehem Christmas corn.
Baby’s fists, softer than snowflakes in Norway.
The vagabond mother of Christ and the vagabond men of wisdom,
All in a barn on a winter night,
And a baby there in swaddling cloth on hay.
Why does the story never wear out?”
I hope you will take some time to let your soul be moved by the wonder of Christ’s birth.
—Tom Tripp is the Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Colusa. Pastor Tripp can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.