The city was overcrowded and understaffed. The census was straining it at the seams. That dark night, Mary must have questioned God’s timing. This was no place to bring a baby. There was no room, no preparation here for Him. Certainly a larger city, or a quieter moment, could better accept the birth of a Savior. But God spoke then, and there, and Jesus was born. In the dust kicked up by the busyness of the census, people were not watching this young couple ride into town. There was no expectant pause in Bethlehem. It was full, but oh so empty.
And so are we- full, but oh so empty. There is no expectant pause for us in the midst of violence, politics, pain, and self-serving idolatry. And even in calm moments, we overrun our lives with complication. Every day is a census of sorts- a counting and recounting of achievements, of money, of importance. And somewhere on the fringe of all the being and doing is a stable, and a manger, and a tiny Baby that coos softly amidst the noise.
Don’t be Bethlehem today. Be the innkeeper. Find a place for Jesus. Always be aware, be expectant, be looking for opportunities to open your heart and life. Jesus walks the earth today through us, and we are given many moments to give Him room. As the holidays pass and the calendar turns, remember the manger that represents a place on earth for Jesus, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7)