Delivery Time


Santa’s Helpers (also known as my grandchildren)

Here’s a Christmas Day offering from my book, Jesus, a Life – Daily Reflections on the Gospel of Luke, available from Amazon or here.

While Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem, she gave birth to her first son and wrapped him in strips of cloth. She laid him in a feed trough because there wasn’t any room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:6-7)

Luke gives no details about Mary’s labor. We don’t know whether it was quick and easy or a struggle that lasted for hours. Other details are lacking as well. How much did Jesus weigh? What did he measure from head to toe? Was he born with thick dark hair? Were there any features of Joseph—any at all—found in Jesus’ face? Luke gives us only the delivery basics: she gives birth, wraps him in strips of cloths (just like his Hebrew ancestors Samson and Samuel), and places him in a feed trough.

Though none of the gospel writers includes the presence of animals at Jesus’ birth, Christmas cards and nativity scenes seem incomplete without them. If indeed Jesus was born in a stable, it’s not a stretch to imagine a variety of animals present, along with swarming fleas and dung piles. Animals or not, this delivery is anything but the antiseptically clean experience of first-world, modern-day births. No gowns or gloves, no mouth-covering masks, no sterilized instruments.

Nobody of importance is there either. No political attaché standing outside. Not a staff aide from Quirinius’s office checking on things. No reporter from the Bethlehem bureau writing copy. If God wanted the world’s attention, you’d think there would have been a thousand better places than in this poverty-stricken region for Jesus to be born. Nevertheless, here it is, somewhere outside an unnamed inn, in a cattle shed, in an all but unnoticed corner of the Roman Empire. Maybe this is just the beginning of how Jesus shatters our expectations.

When did you last experience holiness in an unexpected place?


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  1. R. Holton December 26, 2015 at 6:23 am #

    A perfect description of the perfect story.
    Thank you!

  2. Marge Vander Wagen January 2, 2016 at 10:59 pm #

    In DuPage Jail one evening an inmate told me it was time to say the prayer to invite Jesus into our lives. She said this dedication prayer is needed tonight. I choked through we know we have sinned, and need your forgiveness. We believe you are God’s Son and our Savior. Be with us forever.
    Sometimes angels come in strange clothing and very unusual places.