Thursday, December 24, 2009

where's the donkey doo-doo?

This might not be much of a news flash, but today is Christmas Eve. This season is a special time of decorating the house, big meals, candy and cookies, family gatherings, evergreens all decked out, presents for loved ones, and sometimes, for those you barely know.

What does this have to do with the Christmas Story (not the '83 movie but the original in Luke Chapter 2)? If you think about it, not much at all.

A poor, pregnant, teenage girl about to give birth arrives in a city where there is no room at any of the inns. (As my pastor once mentioned, if she wasn't so poor, someone probably would have found a room for her.) They let her and her husband stay in the stable. If the inns are full, wouldn't you think the stables would be full as well? Picture this scared teenage girl having a baby in a barn full of work animals, very smelly work animals. The place reeked of animal sweat, feces, and urine.

Not much in decorations. I guess to be more authentic we ought to hang dried donkey doo-doo from our Christmas trees.

Where was the family? Was Joseph the only one from his family who had to report to Bethlehem for the census? Where was every one else? Where were all the sisters, cousins, and aunts to help out with the birth? Was there really no one who would help? Maybe this young couple had been ostracized? After all, Mary was that girl. You know, the one who was engaged to Joseph, then went off to the hill country of Judea to visit her cousin Elizabeth, and three months later came back pregnant. To top it off, Joseph went ahead and married her anyway!

Maybe a midwife came to help, but it is not mentioned. No one in the City of David seemed to notice that the King was born in that crowded, filthy, stinking stable. Wrapped in rags, maybe the baby was laid in a manger because it was the cleanest place; it had the only fresh hay.

Besides the angels, who was going to worship the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords? No wise men of the East yet. They came some time later. God had to outsource the worship to some shepherds outside of the city, out in the countryside. They were already awake. After being frightened by the angels, the adrenaline rush wouldn't allow them to go to sleep. So they went to worship the Christ. Earning their income by living among smelly sheep, these guys probably didn't mind the barn situation.

So if you are spending this Christmas without family, maybe alone, maybe in unpleasant circumstances, you are the one having a more authentic Christmas. God is with you; you can worship the Christ; no one else may even notice or care.

I will enjoy this Christmas season. I will worship Christ, but let's face it: this will be despite all the trappings of the holiday, not because of it.

Despite all the talk of keeping Christ in Christmas, the rest of us may just be having a Happy Holiday masquerading as a Merry Christmas.

Be blessed!

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