The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35 NLT
…Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:20 NLT
ou’ve heard it before; there is far more to Christmas than decorations and beautifully wrapped gifts. The Bible has given me a vivid picture of the glorious outcome of the journey to Bethlehem of the pregnant virgin and that ordinary carpenter. Their journey has become the “more” of my Christmas this year. I’ve found myself thinking of the less-considered details of the birth of the Son of God, Jesus. There’s the reality of two people who’ve each had to accept the word of an angel about their relationship and marriage despite improbable truths. In addition to a surprise pregnancy, there was inconvenient timing that required them to obey the law of their heritage and go to the City of David to register.
Did they realize the birth was that close? How far could they go in a day? Did they sleep outside? How did they cook? How did they manage the required ritual cleansing? What about sanitation? Weren’t there crowds of other people traveling that same road? What about privacy? I can imagine those needs might easily have challenged them on that journey of multiple days on dusty and bumpy roads…but they went. I can also imagine the thankfulness they might have felt to finally have a pile of smelly straw, inside a stable, to sink into at the end of that hard journey. They chose to be obedient even when their lives were filled with legitimate reasons to say “no.” This year I’m grateful I spent some time imagining their journey. It’s easy to celebrate the story of Mary and Joseph on the way to “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and the birth of a promised holy baby Away in a Manger and forget the harsh realities and risks involved in their circumstances. Imagining just how real those less-considered details were, has made me realize my own thankfulness for the choices they made, and the impact of them on my identity in Christ today — because they said “yes” to God.