Sorry to be the latest to assault your traditional Nativity scene.  But this isn’t just an exercise in historical trivia.  Something happened near Bethlehem that, in my 50 years, has gone unnoticed or ignored.

Have you ever had times when, for a split second, it seems that God has “parted the curtain” between the seen and unseen world, and given you a glimpse of the Larger Story?  You can find one of those in Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus.

Setting the Scene

Joseph and Mary, both descendants of King David, had returned to their ancestral home town for census and taxing purposes.  This shuffling of the population of Israel was a massive undertaking, and caused some serious housing shortages for months.  But somebody in Bethlehem (possibly a distant cousin, who knows?) offered them shelter in the place where they kept their animals.  This was probably a cave.  We don’t know how long they were there before Jesus was born, but it was probably a little time.  It doesn’t seem as though ol’ Joe was banging on doors at midnight, hollering, “My wife’s in labor!”

On the day (yes, day) Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph were still in the cave.  The animals’ feeding trough became the infant’s first bed.

Then the sun went down, and the drama began. [click to continue…]

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