December 11, 2016 - Rev. Mark Taylor

Scripture: Luke 2:4-7 

Have you ever prayed for patience? Honestly it’s a terrible idea. Inevitably, when you ask God for patience, you will find yourself placed in situations where you can learn patience. Not exactly what most of us had in mind, right? I don’t want to have to learn patience. I just need to have patience! But that is not always how it works. In fact, I would say the way we get things we need isn’t always through the method we want.

I think about the story of the nativity and our scripture today. Do you think Joseph and Mary wanted to travel to Bethlehem when she was nine months pregnant? As a father of an infant, I can tell you with great certainty, there was no way Kaci and I wanted to be travelling far from home when she was very pregnant. I can tell you with even more certainty that the method of travel - on foot and on a donkey - would not have been at the top of my list. We didn’t want to fly or drive, much less walk 90 miles when she was pregnant. Not happening.

Yet that is right where Joseph and Mary found themselves, being forced to travel the equivalent of OKC to Tulsa on foot when Mary was presumably nine months pregnant. Oh yeah, and let us not forget, the baby isn’t even his. But wait, there is more! Obviously, when Mary went into labor far from home, things were not going according to their birth plan. Not only are they in a different town, they cannot get a room in the inn. So sure, let us place our new precious baby in the manger. It will be fine, right? I don’t know about you, but I’m not about to tell a new mother to place her baby in a dirty manger. Not. Going. To. Happen.

Yet, that is exactly where they found themselves. This was not a gift they wanted. They probably could not have come up with this series of events in their wildest imagination. They trusted God’s plan and this happens. Yes, Jesus was a gift, but this was not how they wanted to receive it. The whole trip and birth experience were not a gift I would have wanted. And yet, it was a gift we all needed. It was a gift that forever changed the world; a gift that gave hope to the hopeless, brought peace in the midst of chaos, and love in a whole new way. This gift that Mary and Joseph didn’t want, turned the priorities of the world upside down. A king was born in a manger. Thanks be to God.

God of the unexpected, make us receptive to the gifts you have for us this Christmas season. Amen.

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