It was so cold.
That is all I have been able to think about ever since I learned that hot, desert areas get next to freezing at night. Never mind that the Savior of the world was being born, or that the miracle to end all miracles was happening. Reading through the birth of Jesus, the only thing I can think of is Mary giving birth in the freezing cold. Yikes.
And it was smelly.
I mean, it was a barn, after all. And all of the inns were full, which meant that barn might have been chock full of nasty animals. I grew up in Redneckville, USA, so I’m not afraid of animals & dirt. But having a baby in the middle of poop-filled stall? Nope.
And there were people.
Now, I like to think that once I have children, I will be fine with people coming in & visiting. I’m not really private or shy, so I don’t think it will be much of an issue. But these were shepherds, after all. So they were smelly, along with the animals being smelly, and they were complete & total strangers. And Mary was probably still covered in birthing goo. Pass.
And the only person there to help her is this guy who’s never even seen these lady parts. She didn’t know what she was doing, and he didn’t know what he was doing. The simple fact that Jesus came into this world alive & well is a miracle.
Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
It’s laughable, really.
Can you imagine it as a reality-TV show? Joseph is running around, trying to find another lady who knows what to do, but the car broke down, and he can’t get any signal on his cell phone. And he can’t stray too far from Mary, because OMG she’s having a baby! So she’s yelling at him, and he’s yelling back. There is no town for the next five miles, so she looks at him & tells him he has to do this with the knowledge he gleaned from birthing class. Only he didn’t pay attention in class because they had the video & just ew. So he’s fanning her & trying to get her to do the breathing technique, and she grabs him by the hair as a contraction hits her & screams, If you tell me to breathe one more time…!
Yeah, I like to imagine that’s how Jesus came into the world. Not silent & calm, but full of noise & terror & smells & grossness. Because he didn’t come into the world like a movie baby, all open eyes & clean & tranquil. He was a baby, and Mary was a woman, and Joseph was a man. There is no way the birth of Jesus was silent.
But the thing is, it didn’t need to be quiet. It didn’t need to be nice or calm, because Jesus didn’t come to make the world around us calm.
Many Christmas cards have the saying “Peace On Earth” emblazoned across them because we associate them with the words that the angels spoke to the shepherds. In actuality, most translations of the Bible don’t say “Peace On Earth” but “On Earth, Peace”. Meaning that Jesus did not come to make the earth one big hippie planet. He came to bring us peace in the midst of the earth.
Life can be so crazy. And I’m not even talking about the holidays. It is all crazy, most of the time. And we can get caught up in all of it, whether it is work or fifteen Christmas parties to attend. We start running around & yelling & freaking out, and all of a sudden something happens that makes us stop. It’s that moment – Jesus, the miracle child, laying in his mother’s arms – and we realize that we are just fine. He is fine, you are fine. Everything is good & right in this moment.
I pray you find those moments in the next few days. I know you will be running around with food that needs cooking & presents that can’t be left behind as you head to Grandma’s house. But just find a second. Realize the beauty that is the chaos, and feel the peace that God gives in the middle of it all. When you think you are about to reach across the table & strangle your third cousin, remember that Mary gave birth in the cold.
And while you are mid-shudder, remember that Jesus was born, and He gives you peace in the midst of it all.
Merry Christmas X Happy New New Year!