While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Luke 2:6-7

 

Late in October, my husband and I moved from Nebraska to Connecticut. We knew in July that we would be moving, so we began making the appropriate plans and arrangements for our departure and subsequent arrival on the east coast.

A nativity scene of Mary, baby Jesus, and Joseph during the manger birth.Together, we put our house on the market in Nebraska. Then, we contacted a realtor in Connecticut and arranged a trip to look for a new place to live. We interviewed moving companies and hired one. We had our two vehicles checked by mechanics to make sure they could make the 1,000+ mile journey. We determined the halfway point of our trip and made reservations at a pet-friendly hotel. We secured temporary housing for the few days we’d be in Connecticut before closing on and moving into our new home.

And that’s just scratching the surface.

This year, as I’ve read the story of the birth of Jesus, I am struck over and over again that no one had made arrangements to accommodate the young couple after their journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem—and Mary “great with child” to boot!

But then I realize I am bringing my twenty-first century imagination to this ancient story. I don’t exactly think Joseph could have used the HotelTonight app to make reservations from the road, but I do think to myself, “Why didn’t they plan better? Why didn’t the angel also tell them to make reservations at the inn, asap? Why didn’t they pack a couple of onesies for the Son of God? Sheesh!!!”

But wait a minute.

Who am I to say Joseph didn’t plan? Maybe he did make a reservation, but the room was given away to someone else because Joseph and Mary arrived late. Perhaps the small town of Bethlehem would just not have had enough beds for everyone, no matter how far in advance Joseph had planned their journey.

All that truly matters is this: “While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.” Jesus arrived in the world, just as planned from the foundation of the world. His arrival defies both good old-fashioned logic and our twenty-first century imaginations. His humble birth made the Kingdom of God accessible to all, even (especially?) those our traditions and customs and comforts and preferences can find no room to accommodate.

The truth, of course, is that there was a plan. There always is, isn’t there? Thanks be to God.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:

Why do you think there was no room in the inn? Have you ever been turned away? What was that like?

PRAYER:

Thank you for Jesus. Thank you for defying logic. Thank you for being even bigger than my imagination. Thank you for your good plans for me. Thanks be to God. Amen.

 

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentaryGod at Work (Luke 1, 2 and 4)