For several weeks I’ve busily prepared for the holidays. The house is decked out in Christmas finery: the tree is lit, garlands cover the stairway and windows, and angels and nativities adorn the tabletops. Holiday meals are cooked, and the pantry is stocked. Treats wait for children and grandchildren to indulge. Gifts, wrapped in red, blue, and green, sit under the tree. After all the work, I’m finally ready for Christmas! Once my loved ones arrive the celebrating will begin!
While I’ve worked, I’ve wondered what preparations Mary made. Like all pregnant women, she must have made special plans for the birth of her little one. Since Joseph was a skilled carpenter, Mary surely asked him to make a cradle for her soon-to-be-born infant. She must have arranged for her mother and at least one other woman to assist with the birth.
I wonder how the trip to Bethlehem impacted her plans. Did it make her fret and worry? Did she cry, thinking she might have her child while on the trip? Or did she calmly prepare, packing swaddling clothes and trusting God to provide?
In spite of her preparations, Mary surely wasn’t ready when she started labor in a town far from home. Did she cry for her mother? Was she frightened when they could not find a room? In a quiet corner of a little village, in the company of stable animals, Mary gave birth. Surely this birth didn’t happen the way she had planned. But the birth of the son of the living God as a tiny, helpless infant happened precisely as God planned.
I suppose the real question isn’t how Mary prepared for the birth of her son. The question is this: as I make my preparations to celebrate the savior’s birth, have I left room for him in the inn of my heart? Perhaps I need a little more time to truly prepare for Christmas. What about you? Are you prepared?
Ephesians 3:16, 17a “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”