December 2019

Dear Friends,

Nativity stained glassWhen I begin a long journey, whether by car, by train, aeroplane or even by foot, I like to have a good idea not only of where I’m going and which route I’m going to follow, but also where I’m going to stop along the way. Even if I use a Satnav I like to look at a map and have some idea where I’m going. When Mary and Joseph left home to register for the census, they had to leave home without such assurances. They could only hope that at the end of their jourey they might find an inn with a room where they could rest.

Luke chapter two tells us that Mary was heavily pregnant when she made this journey and Jospeh must have been desperately concerned to find a room where they could rest as they entered Bethlehem. But they were out of luck. Every inn in the town was full to the rafters, presumably because others were making the same journey! Yet one innkeeper took pity on the young couple, and rather than leave them out in the open, he offered them a cattle stall. Here it was, in these dirty, noisy, unhygienic surroundings, that Jesus, the Son of God, was born.

You can’t help wonder whether God couldn’t have arranged things a little better. Surely he might have arranged for this census to be taken at a less inconvenient time for this unfortunate cuople? Surely he could have arranged for a room to have been free in a Bethlehem inn and the local obstetrician to be at hand. Surely he could have chosen a more glamourous place for his Son to be born than a dirty barn.

Yet perhaps this was exactly what God had intended to happen. Perhaps he knew that only by being born into this humble Palestinian family, the son not of a prince but a carpenter, could Jesus grow to become the Saviour of the world. So this humble Bethlehem scene clearly illustrates the depth of the love of God for us his people. The great and mightly God who made and created this world, who has guided and sustrained his people since time began, is so concerned that we know and love him that at Christmastime he sent his Son into our world to be one with u,s that we might know his love for evermore.

Will you find room for Jesus in the inn of your heart this Christmas?

A Merry Christmas to you all,

Richard

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