So much anticipation is wrapped up in that baby boy lying in a manager – weeks of waiting for the Christmas season, months of pregnancy for Mary, years of pleading for a savior by Israel. And one night, God showed up and delivered on his promise when Mary delivered her child – Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us.
But we sometimes get so wrapped up in the Christmas story that we forget the reality of the first Christmas.
Mary, a girl likely no older than fourteen, was travelling while pregnant to Joseph’s home town of Bethlehem. No innkeeper had enough compassion to make space for a pregnant women writhing with the pain of delivery. Distraught, the couple delivered their child in a trough, alongside cattle and sheep – hardly imaginable as a “silent night.”
The circumstances of the birth of Jesus were humble, to say the least, but the condition of the world he was born into was dire. Herod, acting ruler of Judea, enacted the Massacre of the Innocents; he ordered all boys under the age of two be slaughtered. So Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt as refugees, and stayed until the death of Herod, by many estimates many years later.
Jesus didn’t come to the world as we want it to exist. He came into the world that actually exists, the very same world we live in today.
Jesus came into a world where we are all so dang afraid. He came into a world where there is hurt, pain, and suffering. He came into a world with cancer and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer. He came into a world of broken relationships and estranged family members. He came into a world of anxiety, depression, and suicide. He came into a world with believers, doubters, and questions.
And Jesus comes to us in our hurt, pain, and suffering. He comes to us in our fears. He comes to us in our disappointment. He comes to us in our sickness. He comes to us in our anxiety. Jesus comes to us and embraces our whole selves.
Jesus – God with us.
God with us.
Is there any more truth to the Christmas story than this?