1 In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. 2 This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria. 3 Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled. 4 Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea. 5 He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant. 6 While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.
Anyone who has been stuck at an airport or in bumper to bumper traffic on the highways during the holidays knows the frustration of too many people all trying to get to their destination. The journey can seem endless. Then, you arrive at your destination only to find out you don’t have a room! It feels like a disaster! This was the experience of Mary and Joseph traveling on hazardous roads by donkey to Bethlehem, only to find there was no room in the inn.
Luke uses this story to contrast the might of the imperial rule of Rome against the lowly newborn Savior, Jesus. It was the census decree by Caesar Augustus, the Emperor of Rome, that caused the mass movement of people back to their place of birth. It was God’s perfect timing to use Caesar to issue this census so that Mary and Joseph would have to go to Bethlehem, the town of King David, to be counted. This was to fulfill the prophecy of Micah 5:2 that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Finding no room, they ended up taking shelter with the animals where Mary gave birth to Jesus, wrapped him in cloths, and laid him in a manger. The miracle of God made flesh, bringing us grace and love and peace – this little baby, God with us, sleeping in a feeding trough, our hope and our salvation.
By Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
The Kin(g)-dom of God is about making room for others outside our closed circles, making room for the poor, the hungry and thirsty, welcoming in the stranger, giving clothes, visiting the sick and the prisoner. These are the ways Jesus tells us to live.
Luke 1:20 says Jesus was born and laid in a manger because there was no room in the inn. During this season, where in your life can you make room for Jesus? Take time now in prayer and listen to hear what God wants to say to you. Do you need to make room in your heart for the love of Jesus to be born anew or to renew your faith? Ask yourself, where in your life can you make room for others who have been told there is no room for them?
Prayer: God of love, grace and peace, help me to see that Christmas is about making room, not just for Jesus, but for all God’s children who have been told there is no room for them. Help me to make room for others. Amen.