Updated: Dec 6, 2021
The story of Jesus' birth is well-documented. Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem due to have a baby, but there was no rooms available in the inn. As a last resort the teenage couple were sent to the barn.
Jesus was born in a stall.
Perhaps you've heard the significance of this before. Jesus didn't come to us in a palace, he didn't even arrive in the Israel capital of Jerusalem, but he came in a small town off the beaten path under the same roof as farm animals. From his birth to his death on the cross, everything about Jesus' life on earth embodied humility.
Having grown up on a farm, the agricultural setting of the Christmas story has always resonated with me. However, it took on a whole new meaning a couple of years ago when I realized that the condition of the barn Mary and Joseph were in was less like a rundown barn that we would envision and more like a damp and mildewed cave.
As you further embark on an advent season so often defined by joy, it can be tempting to quickly cover up your gloom and to try and scrape it into the gutter. The baggage your carrying from a lackluster year, the heartbreak of not having a loved one with you for the holidays, even the insecurity of not measuring up to other high-achieving family members - this can weigh on you. And it can make you feel alone.
Yet, I know when I stop and consider the dirty and lifeless conditions that Jesus entered into that I realize more clearly how he can in every way relate to my mess. You don't need to bury your burdens this Christmas, invite Jesus to help take the load off. He can empathize with you even on your worst days.