Luke 2:7: And she gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.

Gratitude Day 800

As much as we expect Christmas to be a wonderfully silent night with everything just “perfect,” let’s be real.

It may be silent. Or it may not be.

Maybe everyone will show up at just the right time and be funny and fun and get along. I hope  it will be one of those celebrations that really is as beautiful as everyone’s photos on social media look.

Or it might be one hot and crazy mess.

We have so many expectations that Christmas has to be just “right,” whatever that means. But then, there is reality.

Someone is not happy because of the disproportion of Christmas presents.

The meal does not look as nice as the photos on Pinterest.

Mean old man Winter decides that snow and cold and wind must be present, which in turns, upsets lots of Christmas plans.

So-and-so shows up at Christmas and no one really likes them. Or wants them present.

Someone else makes the day about themselves and becomes just a bit too overbearing.

Or maybe life just isn’t super great right now.

A loved one is missing from the dinner table.

Things out of your control cannot be set on the back burner, even for the day.

There are financial concerns, health distractions, or unanswered questions that occupy too much headspace.

If any of these things, or something else is making Christmas feel not so jolly, it’s OK. The day will come. The day will go. And no matter what happens, the babe’s birth we celebrate already happened and we can be thankful for this.

Before you bemoan how unprepared you feel or whether or not enough is ready, just stop and think about Mary, the mother of Jesus. She found out she was pregnant before she was officially married, which meant that her finance had every right to leave her as an unwed, single Mom. She fled to visit her elder aunt, who was the only person who might have some compassion for her.

Just went she got back to Nazareth, she discovers that she must travel all the way to Bethlehem with her finance, Joseph. By now, she is very pregnant, which only makes traveling more challenging. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the town is overflowing with visitors and travelers. There is absolutely no place for them to stay.

But then, her water broke. Maybe right in the middle of town. What could she and Joseph do? Would the baby be born literally in the street?

Somehow, a kind soul offered them a stable for them to stay. The Prince of Peace entered the world surrounded by mooing cattle and baaing sheep. In a dirty and dusty stable that was probably less perfect and more rudimentary than we’d care to admit.

If you have ever been in a barn when something happened out of the ordinary, let me guarantee you: it was not a silent night.

And yet, this is how the next King arrived into this world. With only the cattle’s manager as the option for a crib. But I have no doubt he slept just as peacefully in the hay as he would have in a top-of-the-line fancy crib.

He was just fine.

How did Mary do it? Why did she not literally lose it? With seemingly no one to assist her with the birth other than a man who was not the baby’s father, how did she not let her emotions overtake her body when the baby came into this world? Did she keep her wits about her or was there a moment when everything fell apart and she bawled like the baby she held in her arms?

And yet, she did.

We love to re-create the nativity scene with little kids in bathrobes and a blue-eyed baby doll that smiles and maybe even says, “Mama” when it’s belly is rubbed. Yes, we must do these things so we can remember how unkept and unpredictable everything related to the birth of Jesus was.

But we must also see the craziness and the “I can’t believe this is happening” moments that were never captured as part of the story. Can we imagine a man carrying for every need of the woman he loved as she gave birth to a baby that wasn’t even his?

And yet, he did.

Tonight, we celebrate the birth of this same baby. The one who entered this world on a very unquiet night in the most unlikely of situations and places. The same night where the silence in a neighboring hillside was rudely interrupted by a choir of angels who announced the birth to a bunch of shepherds who were just trying to keep awake.

Yet, they ran into Bethlehem and found the rudimentary stable where the baby was.

Tonight, I pray we can run to the stable. Find the manger. And know that if our lives are not feeling very quiet or well-behaved right now, it’s OK. Mary’s night probably felt anything but silent. She knows how we feel.

No matter what is going on in your life right now, Jesus’s birth will still be celebrated. We will still open presents and eat a meal while possibly sitting next to the person who drives us a little crazy.

And it will be OK.

Because we showed up. We found the manger. We sat in the stable and waited for the quiet of the night to speak to us.

Will we hear it?

In case your night isn’t silent, it’s OK. Mary’s first night with Baby Jesus probably wasn’t quiet either.

And it was just fine.

I pray that you have an opportunity to be with Jesus, the baby, tonight. May we celebrate the birth of the Savior who came into this world just for you. For me. And this, my friends, is exactly what we need this Christmas.

Not a silent night.

For the reminder that the first Christmas Eve probably was not silent, I am grateful.

Blessings –


Most Holy One – While a silent night sounds so peaceful and special, maybe the birth of Jesus was silent. Or maybe it wasn’t. May our expectations of what must happen today and tonight be tempered by what has already happen: Jesus was born because of Your deep love for us. May this be more important today than a silent night. Amen.

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