Monday, December 17, 2018
Luke 2:1 – 7 1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register. 4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Las Posadas is under way. This Mexican festival dates to the 16th century when a priest first used an Aztec celebration to teach about the birth of Christ. This nine-day festival beginning on December 16th re-enacts the search of Joseph and Mary for lodging in Bethlehem. Every family in the neighborhood sends their children out into the street. As a group the children walk from house to house and sing a song with words that beg for lodging. The owner of each house sings a song of refusal back to the children, until the children reach the house that has been predetermined by the parents to be the inn with the manger. The parents all gather at that home and begin a party while the children must remain outside for a time. Eventually they are invited in for a short worship service followed by a party which includes the traditional piñata in the shape of a star.
This process is carried out every night until Christmas Eve, when the processions end at the church for their Christmas Eve mass. Variations of the festival have developed, and San Antonio, Texas is world-renowned for its 9-day Las Posadas event every year.
When Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem there was no pretending about finding a place for lodging. The town was filled with all the people from all over Israel who were descended from King David. They had come under orders from Rome to register to be taxed. Joseph had arrived late because of the difficulty of traveling with a nine-month pregnant wife. Every room of every inn was already occupied.
Joseph’s every attempt at providing for his wife was met with failure. He ended up taking Mary to a stable. They were surrounded by all the horses and donkeys that had brought the people to Bethlehem, people who were now safe and warm inside the inn.
Suddenly Mary grimaces in pain. Her face reveals the fear and questions in her mind about what is happening. There are no blankets except the one they had used on the back of the donkey. The bedding straw used for the animals became the bed upon which Mary lay to give birth to the Son of God. There was no water for bathing the baby except for what was is in the feed troughs for the animals. There were no clean clothes for the baby, so strips are torn from their own clothing and Jesus is wrapped in them. Straw is laid carefully in one of the feed troughs to make a bed for Jesus.
Mary lies down on her straw bed to recover from the birth. Joseph wonders where he failed and what he could have done differently to provide better for his new family. God reassures them both that this is exactly what he planned. His Son, the Messiah, would be born in obscure humility in the worst of conditions so that His glory could be revealed.
God reveals His glory in the weakness and failures of man. It is in rejection by the world that complete acceptance by God is found. It is when we are not able to announce ourselves to others that God sends angels to announce Himself to all. It is when we are at our lowest that we experience the highest glory. When all human provision is removed, God reveals Himself.
Do not be afraid that your plans are not working out. Do not be worried about the rejection you are experiencing. Do not fear the loss of financial security. Do not fret over being brought lower than you think you deserve. Every step downward into humility brings you closer to the day when God will exalt you.
Why should our lives be lived any differently than Christ’s? Why do we believe we deserve better than Jesus? Why has Jesus become our means to prosperity rather than our motivation to humility? We are missing the fullness of God’s grace because we are so filled with ourselves.
God gives grace to the humble. Embrace the rejections and failures of your life. They are the moments God designed to reveal His Son to you. Move out of the penthouse and into the stable. It is where you will find Jesus.