The Nativity

Christmas is coming. Everywhere you look you’ll see lovely nativity scenes. I love nativities. They’re a reminder that something wonderful can come from something that appears to be small.

I was thinking recently about that first nativity. The night when Jesus was born. Was Mary scared? Here she was, no female friend to help her. Did one of the women in the inn hear her cries and come to her aid? How about the innkeeper’s wife?

Was Joseph freaked out? He was a carpenter, so how much did he know about childbirth? Was he at least familiar enough with animals that he’d helped bring a few goats or sheep into the world? Could he be of any help at all?

The nativities we see this season will be neat and clean. They will be softly illuminated. I wonder about that dark, smelly cave where Mary gave birth. “Laying the babe in a manger” sounds nice until you think about the fact that you’re talking about a feed trough where the livestock was probably drooling not long before. When the shepherds arrived they’d been out in the fields with the sheep. I bet they didn’t smell so fresh, either.

I’m not trying to take away from the majesty of Christmas. It’s just that life is messy. It’s been messy since Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden. The good news is that you never know what glorious thing might be right around the next corner disguised as just another kid in a barn.

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