We are nearing the end of December, and we will soon be welcoming in the New Year. Advent is drawing to a close, and the Hope we have been anticipating on the journey, is on the horizon.
As we make preparations, to celebrate Christmas, let’s pause and consider the Welcome that Jesus received in Bethlehem all those centuries ago.
Our view of the Christmas story can be shaped by over familiarity with the Bible narrative of the events. Plus, watching a number of school Nativity plays over the years, can also lead to thinking that Joseph and Mary were knocking on many doors, and that all the hospitality venues were full.
However Scott Erikson, in his book Honest Advent, points to Luke 2:6
While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. NASB
This suggests that they were already in Bethlehem and waiting for the birth. It is likely, in terms of the customs at the time, that they were staying with relatives. But as a result of the census, the relative’s house was full with other family visitors, also returning for the census.
So, as the time came for Jesus to be born, Mary found herself in Bethlehem, in the lower level of the house, in the space that was used to house livestock overnight to keep them safe and from harm.
The time and place for Jesus’ arrival was in God’s plans and purposes and fulfilled the prophecy of a Messiah coming from Bethlehem.
The shepherds heard the glad tidings of his birth as they watched over their sheep and promptly responded to the angels announcement and hurried to greet Jesus and welcome him.
The Magi from the east similarly observed the stars and signs and travelled to find Jesus, worshipping him when they found him and welcoming him with priceless gifts.
The concept of welcoming or being welcomed is one we are all familiar with. But is it something we do automatically? Or on autopilot? As you prepare to welcome family and friends, COVID-19 infections/restrictions permitting, take a moment or two to think about:
- What makes you feel welcomed when you visit other people?
- What do you find unwelcoming when you visit other people?
- How will you welcome people who visit you this Christmas?
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The pace of life in the run-up to Christmas can be hectic! With this in mind, I have created and recorded a short, free meditation, called The Christmas Gift, for you.
It is a chance to step out of the pre-Christmas rush and into a time of stillness, to experience peace and calm. Those that have listened to it, have found it helped them to relax and rest and encounter the Lord in the stillness. I invite you to check it out!
You can access this free meditation here: