For several weeks now I’ve been busily preparing for the holidays. The house is decked out in its Christmas finery: the tree is lit, garlands cover the stairway and windows, and angels and nativities adorn the tabletops. Holiday meals are cooked, ready to be eaten, and the pantry is stocked. Lots of high calorie treats wait for children and grandchildren to indulge. Gifts, wrapped in red, blue, and green, sit under the tree, waiting to be opened and enjoyed. After all the hard work and preparations, I’m finally ready for Christmas! Now all I have to do is wait for loved ones to arrive and the celebrating will begin!
While I’ve worked, preparing for the holidays, my mind has wondered about the preparations Mary must have made. Like all pregnant women, she must have made special plans to prepare for the birth of the wee one in her womb. Since Joseph was a skilled carpenter, Mary surely asked him to make a lovely cradle for her soon-to-be-born infant. She must have arranged for her mother and at least one other woman to assist with the birth.
I wonder how the trip to Bethlehem impacted her plans. Did it make her fret and worry? Did she cry, thinking she might have her child while on the trip? Or did she calmly prepare, trusting in God to provide? Did she pack some food for the trip? Perhaps she prepared some bread, dried fish, and some dates and figs for their journey. Surely she carried some swaddling clothes, anticipating the birth of her child.
In spite of her preparations, Mary surely wasn’t prepared when she went into labor in a town so far from home. Did she cry for her mother? Was she frightened when they could not find a room at an inn? In spite of her plans and preparations, this baby was coming! In a quiet corner of a little village, in the company of stable animals, Mary gave birth. Surely this birth didn’t happen the way she had planned. But the birth of the Son of the living God as a tiny, helpless infant happened precisely the way God planned.
In spite of any of Mary’s preparations, her baby was born in a humble stable. I suppose the real question isn’t how Mary planned and prepared for the birth of her son. The important question is this: as I make my human preparations to celebrate the Savior’s birth, have I left room for Him in my inn? Perhaps I need a little more time to truly prepare for Christmas.
Ephesians 3:16, 17a “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”