Scenes of the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem often depict a calm, “silent night”. Joseph and Mary smile down at Jesus as he rests in Mary’s arms. Some scenes include the shepherds gathered around the manger marveling at what they have seen. Other scenes include the animals that would have been found in a stable. Still other scenes include the magi or “wise men” who came to visit Jesus after seeing the star in the sky. (Even though the wise men would not have been there on the night Jesus was born.)
These scenes are peaceful. These scenes are tranquil. These scenes portray a quiet entry for Jesus into this world. They fill our Christmas cards, Christmas calendars and nativity scenes that we use for decoration during this time of year. They present a very sanitized, clean night in Bethlehem.
While these scenes are peaceful, I’m not sure they represent what truly happened on the night that Jesus was born. I imagine as Mary gave birth to Jesus she cried out with the pain of labor. (I’ve never seen or heard of a delivery that didn’t involve some cries from the mother.) Blood would have been present as Jesus was born. Rags or other cloths would have been used to help in the birth and to clean up as well. The animals present in the stable (if there were any) would have been agitated by the commotion and would have been making noise as well. Outside the stable, the city of Bethlehem would have been teeming with people. The town was filled to capacity. Noise and commotion would have filled the streets. I believe Jesus entered this world on a not so “silent night”.
I think this scene of a chaotic birth makes sense. Jesus came into a messy world. From the moment he drew his first breath in the messiness of a stable, Jesus was acquainted with the chaos and stress of this life. As he lay in the manger, he was introduced into the uncomfortable environment that this world can present. As the noise and busyness surrounded him, Jesus experienced the frantic pace that tends to define many of our lives. As he looked up into Mary and Joseph’s faces, he saw the fear and uncertainty that we all share from time to time.
Jesus came into a messy world. It’s a world of stress, discomfort, busyness, fear and uncertainty. It’s a world where plans are changed, faith is needed, and where life doesn’t always make sense. It’ s world where hope seems hard to find at times, especially in the chaotic days in which we currently live.
This is the world that Jesus entered. He willingly entered into the mess. From the first moments of his life, he experienced the struggles of this life. Yet, in that manger, hope was born. Jesus came to show us how to live in this messy world. He came to show us there is more than this mess and to point us to an abundant life in the present and for all eternity as we trust our lives to his lordship in our lives.
He came into the mess. He brought hope. He showed us how to love and live. As we encounter this messy world around us, may we strive to share his love and grace to others. May we seek to point others to him. May we seek to honor the One who came into the mess to lead us home. Thank God for the gift of his son.
Misty, Davidson and I wish you a Very Merry Christmas!