Stringing up electric Christmas lights can be such a task. You have to get the box of lights from the basement or the attic. You have to untangle them; even with the best plans of putting them away neatly. Then comes the fun of putting them up, finding the ladder and oh, yes, they don’t work! Now the search for the little packet of replacement bulbs and finding the one that is causing the problem. So the quick project of putting up the Christmas lights turns into a week long ordeal. Then the moment of truth happens. You plug in the lights for the final inspection! Blink! Blink! They are on and you step back in excitement and happiness. The decorations are ready. Christmas may come! I’m ready!
What a contrast to that time long ago as Mary and Joseph received the word. Census! Now? You mean we need to go to Bethlehem, now? Mary is pregnant and due. It is over 100 miles to get to Bethlehem. We need to go now? Can we say tangled box full of lights? Spaghetti that is what this is, spaghetti! Yes, Mary and Joseph had to start the journey from Nazareth and travel east to the Sea of Galilee. Then follow the coastline to the southern tip where it empties into the Jordan River. They then had to take their time and travel approximately 100 miles south to the northern tip of the Dead Sea. The Jordan River in this section between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea is 100 miles as a crow flies or 200 miles long as the river runs, doubling back on itself as it worm’s its way downward in elevation. The journey was hard, long and not the easiest with a wife about to give birth, riding a donkey and traveling. But let’s not get caught up in the difficulties. Mary and Joseph were able to travel, reach the Dead Sea and climb upward from the river basin past the city of Jericho some 3,000 feet in elevation above them. The time was coming closer and the journey was winding down. Passing through the Capital city of Jerusalem, Mary and Joseph were almost there. Then it was in sight. The city of David, the town of Bethlehem was right before them. Crowds of people and Roman Officials, Soldiers and Guards, all there to complete the task of taking the Census. Mary and Joseph, go to the table and register. The point of the journey that lasted so many miles is complete.
Now the next task, the coming birth of their precious child. But where? That final connection to get the lights plugged in. How could this happen, the extension cord is 2 feet to short. It doesn’t reach the outlet! How could this happen? No room? What! Where is my wife going to give birth? What are we going to do? Yes, the barn! I have an extension cord in the barn. It will work! The Stable, out back, it’s the best I can offer! It will work!
The time arrives and everything is in place. The chaos has stopped, the deep breathing and the look of anticipation is on the face of Joseph. It is that moment of surreal amazement, everything seems to stop and then the cry of an infant child. Little did Mary and Joseph know or understand that this tiny baby would become the Light of the World! In that moment all the struggle, the work, the effort and the journey made sense. The gospel of John chapter 8 verse 12 has Jesus answering a question with these words, “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
May the Light of Christmas be eternal for you as you celebrate the birth of the Redeemer of all who will call upon His name and believe in Him.” Yep! The lights are on! We are ready! Let Christmas come and may we celebrate an O Holy Night!
The writer is the pastor of Immanuel UCC in Kettlersville and St. Peter’s Church in New Bremen.