Without choice, Joseph and Mary had traveled a great distance and arrived in the town of Bethlehem. Their lives together began in difficulty, with Mary experiencing the distain of neighbours and the doubt of family, while Joseph lived with uncertainty regarding their future. Nothing was happening as he had planned, nor as he had hoped. The two of them were being carried along by a current of unforeseen, confusing and at times unwanted circumstances and events. They both had chosen to submit to the will of God, but His will was unclear and it led from one undesirable event to another. They no sooner arrived in Bethlehem that Mary needed to deliver her baby, but there was no place for them to stay. No one would grant them a room, no one was willing to sacrifice the warmth of their bed, not even for a young new mother having her first child. All they had was a barn with animals and a feeding trough into which to place their baby.
Though I know how this story turns out, thinking of it stirs within me a sense of outrange as the heartlessness of the world that surrounded Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Where was the compassion, the mercy, and the grace that should have been exhibited towards this family? Didn’t anyone care. We know that God cares and that God provides, but He has expectations of His creation – love your neighbour as you love yourself, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Yet, in general His creation ignores Him and those who have been created in His image.
In Romans Paul wrote about the godlessness of man, and the depth of depravity to which man consistently descends. Though we know that “the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Rom 1:18); and though we know that God is orchestrating all things for the good of those who love Him (Rom 8:28), events like those that happened to Mary, Joseph and Jesus continue to occur. Many of us are deeply disturbed by them and want to do something about it.
This morning, there are men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces who are doing something about it. They are away from their families in locations and circumstances that are characterized by the environment that Paul described in his letter. Concurrently, the military families are doing the best that they can to normalize their lives as the currents of uncertainty affect their present and future. For those who know Jesus, prayers of thanksgiving will be offered throughout the day, as they should be. I ask though, that prayers for protection, for sustainment, for hope and for effectiveness be offered for the members of the military community. As you celebrate Christmas please remember those who serve and who are serving at sea, in foreign and dangerous countries and who fly missions into hostile environments. Pray for their safety, pray for their families, ask God to orchestrate all things for their good in the midst of this depraved world. We want to do something about the kindlessness that exists in our world, that affected Mary, Joseph and Jesus. We can, we can pray for those who are active today in attempting to affect positive change, and for their families who wait for them to return home.
Peace on you and your family.