Welcome to the holiest night of the year…
and yet at first glance, it might seem ordinary.
Once upon a time, the entire world was covered in darkness that allowed hopelessness, injustice, corruption, oppression, misery and hate to flourish within its shadows.
Until our story begins with a young, pregnant, engaged but not yet married woman named Mary traveling with Joseph to Bethlehem per government census. They were Israelites, whose land was occupied by the Romans.
As the Gospel according to Matthew wrote, Joseph had reasonably questioned Mary regarding her condition and claim to not engaging in the necessary activities with him or another man. Joseph came to believe Mary after an angel appeared in his dream assuring him to take Mary as his wife and shared God’s plan for redeeming all humankind and the entire creation. But, I imagine that doubters remained who whispered to one another about Mary, Joseph, and this baby. I also imagine God did not send an angel to each doubter.
Upon their arrival in Bethlehem, the couple is not able to find a room for the night and I would imagine with a little hesitation but with gratitude accepted the offer to stay in a stable.
In the fields that surrounded Bethlehem, shepherds were watching their flocks as was normal.
I imagine that the night sky was darker than dark polka-dotted with beautiful but distant stars offering little light for them and their sheep.
But on this ordinary night, God would use these ordinary people, place, and event for a holy drama. Read the rest of this entry »