It's Christmas Eve, and earlier this evening I found myself reflecting on Jesus' birth. Not really a big surprise, given the day.
But I started thinking about what it was like for Mary and Joseph. A census had forced them to go to their ancestral city of Bethlehem, which means that all their relatives would also be heading that way. "No room in the inn" may have actually been "no room in a relative's home" as they were shunned by their families.
How terrifying would it have been for these young teenagers to become strangers and outcasts, stuck in a stable or cave with animals.
And then Mary goes into labour. Joseph must have been freaking out, but probably tried to stay calm for Mary's benefit. I'm sure neither of them really had a clue what they were doing, but somehow, God was with them assisting in the birth of his son. Pretty awesome.
I think a lot of people can be lonely at Christmastime. Maybe they're reminded of estranged family members or of losses, but I hope that they can find comfort in knowing that Jesus came into the world as part of an estranged family who had lost a lot of relationships. God was there in the midst of their pain, and he walks with us in ours too.