In all the preparation for slick singing and powerful performances during the festive season in churches across the West, and in the pursuit of creating amazing decorations, presents and fine food, it struck me how laid back God’s plans were for the birth of the Saviour of the world, far off in the dusty Middle East.
Mary and Joseph weren’t informed in advance to not bother trying for a room at Bethlehem’s inns. No, God let them experience the frustration and disappointment of being turned away, and watched them simply trust him for the safe arrival of the promised Messiah.
We don’t read anything about fear or anxiety gripping the young parents’ hearts; simply that they pressed on and were happy to accept whatever alternative arrangements the innkeeper could make for them. They didn’t complain about the provision they were offered; they focused on welcoming their baby and settling down for the night.
The coming of the King of Kings wasn’t orchestrated with much fanfare and hype. (Except for the chorus of angels when they made their announcement to the humble shepherds – and, even so, not everyone got to witness this wondrous display in the night sky.) The actual birth was a simple affair in a rustic setting, something that reflects the nature of our God. Jesus – God in human form – chose to dwell among regular people in an average part of town. He could have been born in the finest palace. But God chose a manger in a basic spare room, most likely a barn.
This Christmas it’s good to remember that God’s not looking for perfection, but rather willingness to follow his calling and readiness to accept circumstances that might seem strange, whilst knowing that he’s got it all figured out. We don’t have to know what’s coming next or how everything will work out; that’s God’s job. We can find the Prince of Peace and experience supernatural calm when we focus our hearts and minds on him. Even when our plans go wrong and the perfect Christmas, or family, or life doesn’t materialize. Christ wants to meet us in our mess, in his time and in his way. Are we ready to welcome him in the stillness, away from all the season’s noise?