By Heather Walton
Today likely has not been your perfect Christmas. Many families are not meeting together because of concerns over transmitting or catching the virus. Some are meeting virtually, or driving by and social distancing. Some are getting together but wearing masks. Many are spending Christmas alone or only with their household.
The season may not have been near perfect either. Shopping was a challenge for some, and buying was prohibitive for many, especially those whose small businesses closed this year, or whose employers laid them off.
For some, the loss of a family member during the past year has made Christmas more of a time to dread than to welcome.
There was a young couple who could identify with a less-than-picture-perfect holiday. Mary and Joseph had no relatives gathered around to celebrate the first Christmas. In fact, they weren’t even at home or among family. And likely their family and friends were a little off-put by the “out of wedlock” pregnancy.
And then came the order that would take them on a grueling journey for an expectant mother, as the Roman soldiers announced the order that would take the couple several days journey near the end of Mary’s pregnancy. Once they got to Bethlehem, perhaps they could find lodging and rest. That would be perfect. Yet, that was not to be.
Weary from travel, yet without time to give in to fatigue, Joseph found himself scrambling to find lodging in a town that was packed beyond capacity due to the decree of a tyrannical ruler, Caesar Augustus, who really wanted to know how many people he could push around, tax, and disrupt. Nevertheless, this journey had been in God’s plan and provision. Though Jesus’ family lived in Nazareth, it had been foretold that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem.
So here was this young, poor, possibly misunderstood young carpenter on his own with his very pregnant young wife, and as they arrive in Bethlehem, she goes into labor. She is not among the ladies of her town — her midwife is several days’ journey away. And on top of this, there’s no place open to them. Don’t you wonder if Joseph was panicky or if he calmly went about looking for shelter? I’ve always pictured him knocking on every door, begging someone take him seriously, but perhaps he simply trusted that God would not allow His Son to be born in the street. Either way, he got the job done, and the babe was born … in a barn.
Did your mother ever fuss at you, saying, “Child, were you born in a barn?” If so, I guess you could have told her that you were in good company, because Jesus was too.
But who would have expected the Lord of the universe to be born in a barn?
The first Christmas wasn’t what most people would have considered anywhere near perfect. However, it perfectly fulfilled God’s plan to save humanity.
This year has defied all the expectations we had on January 1, and the 20/20 hindsight is painful for many of us. Yet as this unconventional Christmas draws this unanticipated year to a close, let us remember that, if God could use a poor carpenter and his betrothed to bring His Son, the very representation of Himself, into this imperfect world, certainly He can reach down into our circumstances and work them for our good and His glory.
May we appreciate our perfect Lord and His perfect sovereignty over the affairs of humanity, and trust Him to work it into His tapestry of grace that reaches from the moment He said “Let there be light!” till the moment He invites us to the wedding supper of the Lamb.
Merry Imperfect Christmas to All!