Daily Devotion 25 December 2020
Luke 2: 1-7 ‘The Birth of Jesus’
1 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
I find the last verse of this reading very interesting for Christmas Day. We learn that Jesus is Mary’s firstborn – foreshadowing the Gospels’ recording of Jesus other siblings. The ‘swaddling bands’ were standard baby-care items in 1st century Palestine, so do not suggest poverty in themselves. However, the second half of the verse accentuates Jesus’ difficult circumstances at birth. There is no place, no room at the ‘inn’. We are not talking about a pub with rooms, but probably a meagre dwelling or a canvas tent that would be for travellers coming into town and needing somewhere to set up a night; the holy family may well have simply had to be outdoors with no space for them inside. Mangers could be inside or out, but the implication is that there is no room, no welcome, no comfort for this most difficult and dangerous times: childbirth.
On this Christmas Day we live in a country where too often the most vulnerable people, the ones needing greatest care, support, welcome and kindness are denied:
• Hospital capacity is shooting up at an alarming rate, with terrifying stories of ambulances queuing outside with no space for the occupants to go.
• UNICEF have donated £25,000 to a partnership of Devon charities to support their work with families in poverty – the first time UNICEF has ever put money into the UK in its history.
• Boats of men, women, and children in the Channel are ‘intercepted’; ‘invading’, ‘taking advantage’ and should be ‘turned back’ – appallingly common rhetoric to dehumanize people and minimise their need.
Who do we let into our cosy world today? Tragically, not enough. But if our starting point as people of faith, is that we let Jesus Christ in, that we make room for Him in our lives, our faith, our ethics, our decisions – then we will find that we will make room for those who need help, and need it desperately.
Christ-child, come among us we pray. Come to our homes, our lives, our hearts.
May we make room for you and welcome the love you bring.
Because of your birth, let nothing be the same again.
Bring peace, justice, and joy, to this fragile world, for the love of God. Amen.
Reflection and Prayer © 2020 Paul Tabraham.
Image © 2020 Ann Caffyn.
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