Listen to this devotional:
Luke 2:1,3-7 – In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 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. (NIV 2011)
For the past several years, I have come to dread Christmas. The build-up to the day is huge! Streets and mall parking lots are crowded with people in search of bargains or this year's fad toy for their child. There's the pressure of trying to figure out what gifts to give the family and whether I can out-do what I did last year. Another pressure for me is the fact that my family lives in another country, so it means travelling every year for Christmas. Sometimes, I just want to be in my own home. Finally, Christmas Day arrives, and by about noon, all the excitement has died down, and I feel a big letdown. It's over. I got through another one, I usually think to myself.
Wow! How easy it is to get caught up in the whirlwind of the commercialism of Christmas! I wonder how we got so far away from the real meaning of that special day. I'm sure, though, that the roads were crowded for Mary and Joseph as well, as people were travelling back to their home towns to be counted in the census. All the inns were filled with travellers, and there was no room for Mary and Joseph to stay — other than in a stable out back. As they were settling into the stable, in the unfamiliar and perhaps uncomfortable surroundings, I wonder if Mary wanted to be in her own home, too. Why did the census have to take place now? Long travels, uncomfortable stable, loud, perhaps smelly animals — yet amid all this chaos, a little Child was born — a Saviour — a King. This is the true meaning of Christmas — and the real reason to celebrate!
Prayer: Loving God, how easy it is to get caught up in what is going on around us, so that we lose sight of the real reason to celebrate Christmas. Amid the chaos of this Christmas season, may we focus on and be reminded of that little Child, our Saviour and King, Your gift to us, the greatest gift we will ever receive. Amen.