1 About that time Emperor Augustus gave orders for the names of all the people to be listed in record books. 2 These first records were made when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
3 Everyone had to go to their own hometown to be listed. 4 So Joseph had to leave Nazareth in Galilee and go to Bethlehem in Judea. Long ago Bethlehem had been King David’s hometown, and Joseph went there because he was from David’s family.
5 Mary was engaged to Joseph and traveled with him to Bethlehem. She was soon going to have a baby, 6 and while they were there, 7 she gave birth to her first-born son. She dressed him in baby clothes and laid him on a bed of hay, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Love Slides In
Can you imagine the scene? It’s crowded, it’s noisy, no one knows where they’re going or what they’re supposed to be doing. What everyone does know is this: the point of this name-listing process is so that the governor can make sure that everyone is on the tax list, and everyone is getting taxed to the fullest extent possible.
In other words, all of this travel and chaos is about increasing the amount of oppression and brokenness the people are experiencing. The people in Bethlehem on this night are up to their eyeballs in taxes and tolls and duties, and this is yet another bill on the table.
Under The Radar
Yet almost silently, almost imperceptibly (unless you’re Mary), into a crowded corner of what was likely an outdoor animal enclosure, arrives God-With-Skin. The Maker of the Universe, the Messiah who is going to rescue His people from oppression, slips into this chaos and mess with the small, lusty, yet unremarkable cries of a newborn baby. (If you’re interested in reading my take on everything that isn’t included in this rather short account, you can find it here.)
And I say all of that because of this: sometimes I think we don’t notice when, in the midst of our chaos, God shows up. Sometimes I think we don’t see that God has seen those bills on the counter, or that relationship that’s gotten difficult, or that loved one going through chemo, or the anxiety we keep trying to cover over. Our chaos is overwhelming to us, so that’s all we can see, but it doesn’t mean that’s all that’s going on.
Don’t Miss Today For the Excitement Of Tomorrow
Tomorrow we’re going to get the announcement from the angels. Tomorrow we’re going to see the shepherds. Tomorrow there’s going to be lights and singing and dancing. But today. Today it’s crowded and chaotic and broken and oppressive and smelly and hard. And today is the moment where Love slides through a birth canal and enters in.
- What bits of life feel chaotic for you today?
- Where do you feel oppressed or squished or overwhelmed?
- Today’s challenge is a bit tricky, but I’m going to give it out anyways. I want you to try to take ten minutes today in the midst of whatever else is happening. If you can, find a quiet space, but don’t let that worry you too much. Wherever you are, find a way to sit or stand or lay down as comfortably as possible. Slow your breathing down. Ask God to show you where Love is sliding in to your chaos. Then sit quietly and listen for the answer. You might see it in this time, or you might walk away thinking this was a dumb waste of time, because you didn’t hear anything. That’s okay. Keep asking.
Love is there, it just might look so ordinary on the outside that you walked right by without noticing it.
You can find more studies in the book of Luke on our website here.