Although many people read the account of Jesus' birth each Christmas, do we slow down and truly reflect on the circumstances surrounding this marvelous and miraculous moment in history? It is the moment that all of creation had been waiting for with great anticipation. Prophets predicted it. Men and women of God prayed to see it. Still, the world was completely unprepared for how this moment would unfold.
Bethlehem was bustling with congestion and busyness created by the mandatory census issued by Caesar Augustus. No one was exempt from the census that required families to return to their town of origin. Despite being very close to her delivery date, Mary and Joseph braved the long and tiring journey home to the City of David. Without the hotels and restaurants that populate large cities today, hospitality was a precious commodity under normal circumstances but the crowds for the census had exceeded Bethlehem's capacity for this type of hospitality.
Into this hectic scene rides an expecting Mary led by her betrothed, Joseph. With the fulfillment of prophetic promises coming in mere hours, the couple found no housing in their time of need. There was no room for them.
Mary and Joseph were alone in a foreign town, finding themselves in a precarious situation. No room, no accommodation, no regard from others. They were surrounded by a town overcrowded with people who were too busy to make room for them.
It isn't unlike today when we gather together to celebrate Christmas. Some of us return to the town of our family's origin. Our streets are crowded. Towns are buzzing. Inns are full. Accommodations must be negotiated — where to stay, for how long, and with which relatives. In the midst of this chaos, do we make room?
For others, cultural traditions and social obligations battle for priority. The centrality of Christ in the Christmas season comes under attack from pluralistic, hedonistic, and materialistic societies. Christmas has quickly become a series of twinkling lights and sparkling presents with no inkling of the eternal Truth of Christ. In the midst of our cultural traditions and social obligations, do we make room?
For others, isolation is the focus of the season and we find ourselves alone with no place that we really call our own. It seems that the most we can hope for is an uneventful evening. Maybe we will fill our time by gratifying our own desires or focusing on our work. Perhaps the time will be spent entertaining a looming feeling of regret. In these moments of isolation, do we make room?
In the midst of that crowded city, the Messiah quietly came into the world. The streets were still busy, the inns were still full, the travelers were still abuzz in the town, and God took on flesh. Can you imagine being in Bethlehem that night and missing this miracle?
The wonder of the Christmas story is this: God's power makes regular intrusions even when we make no room. No room in the inn? God still took on flesh. No room in your holiday traditions? God still calls to your heart. No room in society's agenda? The gift of God is still offered. No room in your isolation? The Savior still invites you to intimacy with Him.
God's plan continues even if we make no room for it. The awesome and the miraculous occur every day as He calls men and women from death to eternal life in Christ and He wants us to experience these miracles. Do not crowd God out at Christmas. Open your heart, mind, soul, home, family, and traditions to God. Make room for Him — not just at Christmas but every day.
Excerpted from My Journal, a monthly devotional magazine from Leading The Way with Dr. Michael Youssef.
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