Monday, December 13
The Emperor’s registration has been a great boon for business, but a mass of confusion, crowding, and short tempers here in Bethlehem. Since our humble village is the birthplace of the great King David those of his lineage have been required to come here to be counted. Our sleepy little country town has been inundated by hordes of irritable citizens inconvenienced by the journey. I warned my wife weeks ago that the inn would be filled to overflowing for these days. Together we made as many advance preparations as possible – more lamp oil, food, linens. Still the rush has been more than we bargained for, and we’ve met some real characters.
A few nights ago, a most peculiar thing happened. An exhausted young man came in just before sunset. He had just arrived from Nazareth with his very pregnant wife and was desperate for a room. I told him that I regretfully had nothing to offer him – there was not a corner to be had. Something about his manner really captured my attention, though. He wasn’t angry or annoyed as most were, but he just thanked me and turned to her with such concern and care. For some reason it was terribly important that I help them. It occurred to me that the cave in back which serves as a stable was empty. When offered such humble accommodations they gratefully and readily accepted with a work of complaint.
Sometime during the night, I was awakened by a small group of shepherds that claimed to be looking for a baby. I was bewildered, thinking perhaps they had had too much wine, but they hurriedly explained their reason for coming to the inn. They related that angels had appeared to them in their field and told them of a Special Child they were to come and worship for He was the promised Messiah. The angel instructed them to look for a baby in a manger. I must say, I felt the strangest sensation and thought of the young couple in the barn.
We went back to see and before us was the most beautiful sight. The young woman had given birth to a baby boy. Her husband, I think he said he was a carpenter named Joseph, had cleared out the animals’ manger and put in fresh hay, and there the baby lay all wrapped in warm cloths. The shepherds fell to their knees.
Although, I was confused and somewhat skeptical, I can truly say this was no ordinary child. In that smelly old barn, there was a holy presence. I have been drawn back in there many times in the last few days. Something lingers – something sacred.
This Advent Season looks for opportunities to give compassion. In doing so you offer Christ’s presence to the world. Wherever Christ is, there is a holy presence. Something lingers – something sacred.
Reflection – When has your spirit sensed a sacred presence?