Verse: Luke 2:1-7
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

These verses may be a little like white noise to you, if you’ve grown up going to Christmas plays, and Christmas Eve Services, live nativities, that sort of thing. Or maybe this account of the birth of Christ is new to you. Or you might be like me. These verses are like a cozy seat beside a loved one, the scent of just blown out candles, and the sound of Handel’s Messiah. I’m sorry if I’ve lost you there. Those are the simple and small things that have remained steady from my childhood, and speak of Christmas to my heart. These verses are that to me. Hearing a child’s voice working out the syllables of Qui-rin-ee-us and Caesar Augustus. Familiar and foreign, all at once. Mystery and wonder, and also comfort. I think of the Old Testament prophecies that spoke of Jesus being born in Bethlehem, of him being from the line of King David, which both Joseph and Mary were.

I get lost in imagining how this situation must have been, to give birth in proximity to barn animals and filth, to be intruded upon by a group of shepherds who wanted to look at the baby shortly thereafter. I’ve never had a problem believing that it happened. I enjoy when scholars dig in to the proofs of the Bible as a historical document, but I’ve never felt that I needed it. And that’s just my personality I guess. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting unequivocal proof. What I know, is that the depths of love that were embodied, literally, in the person of Jesus, is something that my heart recognizes. And I think humanity does as well, at least it seems to, from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, to Harry Potter, to the Walking Dead. The depth of real love is found in self-sacrifice. It’s where true power resides. Giving up your power for someone else. Real life is found in giving up your life. It’s hard to understand on a cerebral level, but our hearts can get it.

So I pray for each of our hearts this Christmas season, that we recognize on a deep level the love that Jesus has for us, that he came to us here, meets us where we are stuck, and frees us with that same love.

God, you are always good. Thank You for your love. May we all be filled with comfort and joy because of it.

Author: Emily Costa