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Thursday December 24, 2009

by Rev. Steven Horelica
Assistant to Rev. Dr. Jo Hudson

Mary 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. Luke 2:6-7

Many of us assume that Jesus’ birth took place in a freestanding barn or stable, but, at the time, animals were regularly kept in homes at night, usually on the ground floor of the house with the sleeping/living quarters on the floor above (an upper room).

Because the Greek term used for inn in this passage has multiple meanings, many scholars believe that Mary and Joseph did not seek lodging in an actual inn but, rather, they went to Joseph’s ancestral home. They probably found it full of other family members who had arrived earlier, so they stayed downstairs in the stable.

Growing up on a farm, I spent many working hours in barns doing chores such as stacking hay bales and feeding animals. I also chose to spend a lot of my free time there. For me, the barn was more than just a place of shelter for animals; it was a warm, safe place filled with life—and sometimes even birth.

You see, when our animals were close to giving birth, we put them into a stall inside the barn so they could give birth in a safe place, protected from predators and the weather.

I remember once helping my grandfather put a cow that was expected to give birth at any time in the barn. We waited late into the night, but nothing. Exhausted, we both went to bed. Early the next morning, I was awakened by the words of my grandfather: “Come with me to the barn and see.”

There in the barn was the cutest baby calf. I knelt down and stuck my head though the wooden slats. With wobbly legs, she walked over to me and stuck her nose to my face, sniffing. For a moment, the world stood still as we looked into each other’s eyes.

Birth in a stable. It seems perfect to me. In the midst of the dust and dirt, in the midst of a scampering rat and spilled grain, in the midst of the strong smells and loud sounds, in the midst of the cows and sheep, in the midst of it all, Jesus was born.

Isn’t that what Christmas is about? In the midst of it all, God has come into the world and into our lives. Today, in the midst of preparing for family, wrapping last-minute gifts, planning the Christmas dinner, traveling, in the midst of it all, I invite you to take a moment and “Come with me to the stable and see.” For unto us a child is born.

Loving God, help me find time today to stand still, face to face with you. Amen.

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Childcare is provided at all Sunday and Wednesday services.

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