No Room

And brought forth her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7

While there is some question as to what an inn might have been in ancient Bethlehem there is no doubt that it was a place where they could stay. The urgent need of Mary to give birth was less urgent than the needs of others on that night.

Not much has changed in our 21st century world of push and hurry. Everyone seems to have an immediate demand for time attention and most importantly, money. But in the storm of wishes and wants it seems that even in His own church there is often no room for his birth. We are so involved in a thousand activities that quiet safety for newborn faith is turned out in the cold.

Thank God for his plan to call shepherds angels and strange Wiseman to we welcome God’s Son to Bethlehem.

Compared to the wonderful preparations of the Father the inn can be a cold and lonely place. Let’s go out to the barn, listen to Angel choirs and kneel beside the Magi and worship Christ the Lord!

One Winter in the Barn

Luke 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn

I remember dark winter mornings in the barn. There the pitch black of the milking stall gave way to the gentle light of a candle stub placed on the beam. The aroma of the hay mixed together with the pungent smell of our Guernsey cow at close quarters. I can still see our cat Kansas City waiting for her small share of milk. The cow snuffed up the dairy mix of ground corn allowing me to do my work and I remember that our Lord came in such a humble place. Though being in God’s form with power, riches and honor He willingly chose to come to Bethlehem’s barn. We do not know for sure that it was winter, yet that night was still surely cold. Cows and sheep, chicken and donkeys haven’t updated since his birth. All was still in that place as the animals slept till the baby cried, the shepherds came and bowed down together with angels to worship Him.

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Leaving the Light On

And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh                  Matthew 2:11 NKJV

Motel Six has used the expression “We’ll leave the light on for you” in their advertising for as long as I can remember. “Leaving the light on”, represents at least three things that will help us no matter what our service to God.

Joseph and Mary certainly didn’t expect three foreign dignitaries that night in Bethlehem, but they opened the door when they heard the knock.   “Leaving the light on”, means having a welcoming attitude towards anyone who wants to help, no matter whom.

Secondly, “Leaving the Light on”, means giving space for them in our world. The cramped quarters of the place where Joseph and Mary were probably didn’t afford much room for three wise men, with their camels, servants and supplies. But what space was on hand was made available for their unexpected guests. In the same way, we need to be willing to share whatever time we have with people who haven’t been included in our plans.

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Last, “Leaving the light on”, means being ready for God’s unexpected gifts. It is unlikely that Mary had gotten any gold, frankincense or myrrh in her lifetime. It may even be that neither she nor Joseph had even ever seen any of those three gifts presented to Jesus that night.

If we are ready for God’s action plan, He will send us people we don’t know at times we don’t expect to bring blessings we couldn’t imagine. When God’s action plan has an opportunity to be put into motion, doors will be opened, Jesus will be worshiped and gifts will be given. God is still sending wise men to the Bethlehem. Let’s “leave the light on” for them!

A Christmas Memory Tree

KIMG2056The lights and the Angel we bought from the store. The ornaments are gifts from friends and family members mixed with some made at home or that came in Maxwell House coffee cans almost 40 years ago.

I begin with just the tree which came as a gift from friends who live thousands of miles but as I put the branches on I remember. Then once the lights are strung come many hand-made ornaments from my mother in law. Then come two brass Teddy bears with tiny portraits of our sons when thee were boys. As the branches begin to fill a gentle quietness fills up my soul. Our life together hangs brightly there amid the lights and I am thankful for years of both happy days and sad are mixed together in the crowd.

But on that first Christmas night when God sent His angels to awaken the shepherds He was remembering us. God remembered our weaknesses and He remembered His promise. Jesus came to the stable that night for us. He came as the eternal reminder that God has not forgotten us. From that moment in Bethlehem till the supper at which He said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” God has forever remembered.

Just so we would never forget He has given us the memory tree called the cross. When we look there we will see all the best gifts of Christmas waiting for our faith to open.

For God so loved the world that he gave us His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life!

John 3:16

 

 

 

Christmas long ago

Family Christmas 2011 005 The year was 1974 and we had been married just a little over a year. We had a small baby and a tiny 3rd floor apartment. Yes I had a job but we had not a dollar to spare. There was no Christmas tree, there were no presents. We had no special meal prepared and no plans. As I finished my work on Christmas eve after my normal work-day I received my pay envelope and to my surprise along with my check there a $50 bill inside as a bonus. In those days that was nearly equal to a week’s pay! I could hardly believe my eyes as I looked up and thanked my boss! I couldn’t wait to get home to show my wife!

After a quick meal we packed our little boy into the back of the car and headed out to the downtown to see what might still be open to buy some things for Christmas. In an open lot we found one of the last trees left from the season. It was tiny and scrawny but at five dollars we happily handed the man our money and tied it on top of the car. Then we headed to Woolworth’s and found single bulbs from boxes that had been opened for just 10 cents apiece. I have no idea what gifts we purchased, but when we returned home after the last store locked its doors we had real fun in celebrating. It wasn’t at all about comparing our lights to the neighbors or about large expensive gifts. We were entirely content in the knowledge that God had been watching and given us a special Christmas blessing. It was a moment I will savor forever and look back on as our most Merry Christmas of all.

Things may seem out of control, bleak and hard, yet in the smallest things God comes to remind us again each Christmas that Jesus came to be with us. He didn’t come to Bethlehem to be coddled and spoiled but to live out a simple life of grace and to give His life for ours. Merry Christmas to all. God bless and keep you all through the year ahead!

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23

A Christmas Song

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The angels gave their message

The Shepherds gave Him praise

The wise men brought their gifts

And we our voices raise

Mary gave Him herself

Joseph gave his Amen

God gave His only Son

To be born in Bethlehem

Now we each year remember

The joy to sing His songs

His star will still be shining

All through the dark night long

A Christmas Song by Peter Caligiuri