In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7)
Unlike the conventional celebration of Christmas, Luke’s story of the birth of Jesus lacks what we often consider all the needed elements for a perfect Christmas celebration. There were no gifts. There was no banquet. There was no gathering of family and friends. Instead, Joseph and Mary were far away from home and had to celebrate the arrival of their first born in an animal manger because “there was no place for them in the inn.”
How scandalous! The Son of God! The Messiah! The Savior of the World could not find a place in the inn and was born a displaced person. Jesus not only was displaced upon his arrival to earth, but he displaced himself from the privileges of being in the form of God to the form of a human being for the redemption of all (Phil 2:6-7). It was in that state of displacement that Jesus set the tone of the new creation he came to establish. It was in that manger where Jesus sent the message that he was going to be found in the most unexpected places, and in the midst of the most unusual circumstances.
Jesus can be found in the midst of displacement and rejection. Jesus can be found in the midst of political and social tension. Jesus can be found in the midst of economic crisis. Jesus can be found in the midst of violence. Jesus can be found in the midst of infirmity. Jesus can be found in the midst of a pandemic. May this Christmas be an opportunity for us to displace ourselves from our conventional celebrations of Christmas to seek Jesus in the most unexpected places, and may we find the greatest gift of all – God with us.
If you would like to view past editions of Time with Ismael, follow this link: https://heritagedistrictnc.org/category/from-the-ds/