The King Arrives
Posted by Rev. Jeff Dixon, Senior Equipping Minister at Covenant Community Church on Dec 1, 2000, 12:43
It is an 85 mile trip. Joseph walks, Mary probably rides side saddle on a donkey. She is nine months pregnant and feels every rut, ditch, hole, and blemish on the path. With every step the donkey steps, she feels the step vibrate her entire being.
Bethlehem is the destination. By the time they arrive, the city is filled to capacity. It is insanity in the form of humanity, and the humanity is everywhere. If they could have arrived earlier, there might have been room, but in Mary’s condition, that was not possible. The inn is packed and people have managed to cram themselves into every corner available. Inside the air is stale and people breath in rhythm, it is that full.
The innkeeper is interested in more than money. He looks upon this young couple and feels for them. The woman looks as if she could give birth at any moment. That would not be good in an inn full of people. Although the manger would be crowded with the animals of his guests, if they can squeeze out a little privacy there, it is OK with him. The stable is fine and Joseph seems grateful. Mary is relieved just to stop and rest, and end the jolting journey on the donkey.
The door to the stable squeaks as Joseph goes inside. The animals make noise at this intrusion on their privacy. Joseph hears Mary groan as another contraction rolls through her body like a wave. The smells of the barn are intense. With so many guests who has time to care for the animals? It will have to do.
The small lamp that the innkeeper has loaned them cast shadows that dance on the wall of the stable. This is not the most comforting setting for a woman about to give birth. Joseph wonders if he could have found something better. Another groan, another contraction, that would be a question that he could reflect on later, they were staying here.
A quick glance at Mary and Joseph sees that she is relieved to be off of the donkey. She is uncomfortable, that is to be expected. She manages a nod as another contraction overtakes her. Joseph moves in a hurry. He grabs some fresh hay and begins to relocate animals and clean up their portion of the stable. Hay would make a good mattress, but a blanket.. . they would need a blanket. . his robe would have to do. On the ledge, there are some rags hanging. They look clean and will also come in handy.
Mary is doubled over in pain. Joseph rushes to find some water. A scream splits the night and even the animals grow quiet for a moment. The baby will be here soon. As Joseph sees the baby’s head for the first time he is struck with the journey this child has made. Joseph now assumes the role of midwife, an unlikely role for him to play. But God seems to have always specialized in the unlikely. Joseph once again looks at Mary, her face covered in sweat.
The contractions are in the final stages and Mary will have to push with every bit of strength she has left. Much of her strength has been used on the journey. The little she has left was used here in the stable, yet she has to have more. It is as if, at the last moment, God decided He does not want to enter this world at all.
Joseph tries to encourage and covers her with a garment.
One more push.
One long sigh.
The Messiah has arrived.
The Son of God is here, tied for the moment umbilically to a lowly Jewish girl.
The baby chokes and coughs. Joseph on weak instruction from Mary turns him over and clears his throat.
Then the baby cries.
In the moments that follow he will be cleaned up, wrapped in cloths, and held tightly by his exhausted mother. And then He will eat and sleep. As He sleeps. . .He sighs. Mary listens as the Word makes sounds that cannot be understood, yet somehow she understands. She smiles at the baby and her eyes fill with tears. They are joyful tears, He has arrived. She looks to Joseph, he is sitting against the wall. . .asleep. He has discovered that delivering a baby is hard work.
Jesus sleeps, the King is tired. This journey into humanity has indeed been a long one.
Without a ripple of notice, God has stepped into the warm lake of humanity. Without announcement and without fanfare.
Where you would have expected trumpet blasts, you hear the sounds of animals. And an occasional buzzing fly. Where there might have been city leaders, there is a donkey, (not a democrat by the way), a camel, and a bunch of sheep.
Mary did not know that at that moment in a field on the outskirts of the city, there was a Heavenly Host giving the greatest announcement ever made. In the process they were scaring to death a bunch of working class shepherds, but they would be there to visit soon. Had she looked close, she might have noticed a bright star. Most would miss it, except for some foreigners and they would drop by as well, years from now.
Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. The first Christmas was here. In the little town of Bethlehem, the Son of God slipped into the world. . .and most missed it.
He still works the same way today, you can miss it if you try. So don’t!
Celebrate the light of the world and His arrival. Let that Light shine through you .
---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ----------