Luke 2:6-7

While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

At first glance, it’s almost as if Luke’s artistry has failed him. Two sentences, a couple of dozen words – that’s all he uses to describe the birth of the Son of God. No fanfare, no vivid detail, no long descriptions of the various stages of this holy birth. None of what we would expect for the birth of a king.

But perhaps that’s the point. Christians confess that in Jesus God shed all trappings of power and glory, all claims to honor and praise, and stepped into our lives fully and completely. Why? In order to be joined to us fully. In order to take on our life and our lot intimately and completely. In order to identify with us and redeem us. That magnificent…and that simple.

What better way, then, to describe this scene but with words similarly spare and simple.

Given the brevity of Luke’s description, we can probably learn much from the words he did choose:

The time came – the time for Mary to give birth, the time for God to get involved in history in a new way, the time for Jesus the redeemer of the world to come among us. The time came.

And she gave birth – just as all other mothers have always given birth. No wonder Mary has been so important to believers through the centuries, and especially to mothers. For Mary is no different. Her pregnancy, labor, and delivery are the same as all others. God comes to us through the ordinary and mundane.

She wrapped him in bands of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Of the few details Luke shares, this is perhaps the most striking…and most important. For while it is unbelievable to most of us that no one made room for this expectant mother, this kind of thing happens all the time. Refugees, immigrants, the dispossessed, the poor… Does it matter – to the world, to us – if they are pregnant or not, sick or not, hungry or not?

Jesus is born, not only like all of us, but particularly like the most vulnerable of us. God comes to redeem all, and God starts with those most in need. And so Jesus is found not in the capitol city but in a backwater town, not in the inn but in the stable, not sleeping on fine linens but laid in an ordinary manger. That is always the way it is.

Prayer: Dear God, you came once in the form of a vulnerable and helpless child, delivered to an ordinary mother and father, in order to redeem the world. Come again and always into our hearts, that we may see that child in the face of all those in need. In Jesus’ name, Amen.