The following was one of the readings I wrote for the Christmas Eve Service
The Prince of Peace was not born in a palace. He had no soft blankets against his skin. There were no relatives cooing and demanding that they be the next one to hold him.
We understand that he was born to a poor family, but perhaps we don’t realize how poor. Most of us imagine the nativity scene like this:
Look again at Luke’s account of Christ’s birth and you’ll see there is no mention of a barn or a stable. There were no cute animals lying sedately in sweet smelling straw. There’s not even mention of the donkey for Mary to ride.
Mary and Joseph were far from home, away from any family or friends. When it says there was no room in the inn, it means they were outside in the cold night. There was no emergency shelter, no public housing, no hospital constrained by law to accept her, even if she had no money.
They simply found a vacant place on the ground for her to deliver her baby. And because she would have been too weak to hold him, they put him in the nearest container—one of those feed troughs to which we have assigned the quaint name, manger. And they found some old rags to wrap around the child to protect him from exposure.
It’s a miracle anyone survives such conditions, but some do. On this night, they did.
This was the scene that made the angels sing. This was what the shepherds found when they searched for him. This is the baby who grew up to heal the sick, feed the hungry, and speak powerful words that still move our hearts.
This is the birth we celebrate.