Christmas is coming!
Now, if you’re anything like me, then you likely read that sentence with excitement and joy. If you’re anything like me, “Christmas has been coming” since early November and you just can’t wait.
Your house is decorated, that Michael Bublé Christmas album has been on lock for weeks and your are settling in to the spirit of Christmas.
A few weeks back as I was pulling out my Christmas boxes from storage, I stumbled upon a box of old photos and I caught myself realizing a truth about the Christmas season that I wasn’t expecting.
As I looked through the old photos I came across a photo of me and my sisters playing in our backyard as children. My sisters are playing on the swing, pushing each other and laughing, having a grand old time, and I’m on the other side of the tree, hanging over the swing on my stomach, playing on my own….yes probably in the dirt.
I am the third child of four in my family. I have two older sisters, who may has well have been twins and were inseparable my entire life. I also have a little brother who was the baby, the only boy, leaving me the awkward middle kid.
As a child I was no foreigner to the feeling of being left out. It was a regular occurrence for me to feel a little out of place, a little forgotten, like I didn’t have a place where I fit. I think at some point in our lives, we have all felt this way.
For some of us, that loneliness sets in at Christmas time. I have always loved this holiday, but over the years I have realized that for many it can be tough reminder of loss, and loneliness. Christmas can leave many of us feeling a little lost, like we don’t quite have a place where we fit.
I smiled at the photo, and continued on unpacking my decorations. Later that day, I was hanging a Christmas plaque on the wall. I looked down at the picture of the nativity scene that was painted along the bottom and it hit me: Jesus had no place at Christmas.
If you have ever read through what we call “Christmas Story” or the story of Christ’s birth, you know that Mary and Joseph travelled to Bethlehem, for a government registration of sorts. When they arrived there the Bible says in Luke 2:6–7 that…
“the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn”.
I caught myself stuck, on this part of the story as I stared down at the nativity scene. God had just worked a series of miracles, from immaculate conception, to getting Mary and Joseph over 150km from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the place where the it had been foretold that the messiah would be born. God had intricately knit the details of this story together, perfectly and completely and yet…..they get to Bethlehem and there’s no place for them?
Come on God! How could you forget this important detail! Jesus is the King, He is the messiah, He is your son and yet, there was no place for Him.
The realization I had that day, as I looked at the picture of the manger, was this: Jesus wasn’t born in a manger by accident.
The lack of place for Jesus, wasn’t just a detail that God overlooked.
The word manger, literally means “to eat”. The manger was a simple wooden trough where farmers would place hay, or slop and the animals would come there to eat.
Jesus was born in a manger, the place from which there is provision, the place from which there comes food and in-turn, life.
The animal never wonders if the farmer will fill the manger, if there will be food for them to eat. They just go there, and they are fed. They come empty and they leave full.
Jesus had no place, so he TOOK HIS PLACE, in a manger, the perfect symbol of the provision, nourishment, fullness, and trust He represents.
Are you coming into this Christmas feeling empty? Do you feel lost and out of place? Do you feel like you’re the one on the other side of the tree all alone, while others enjoy family and connection? Do you watch with envy as people post about their family dinners, and their Christmas parties, and feel like you just don’t have a place? I think, if we are honest we have all felt this way at one time or another.
This is Jesus’ promise to us, in those moments where we feel lost, empty, longing and alone:
John 6:35 “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Jesus is in the business of meeting us in our need. This verse isn’t just literal, it speaks to the provision of Jesus to meet all our needs, both physical, emotional and spiritual. Jesus came into this world, born with no place, so that He could become the place from which we find restoration, healing, joy, peace, and hope.
So this Christmas, as the hustle and bustle of the season begins to settle in, and as the inevitable feelings of loneliness, comparison, judgement, and lostness begin to creep into our hearts, remember our saviour. Run to Him this season, find the hope you need, the peace you’ve been longing for, the joy you lost, and the provision you’ve prayed for.
Find your place in the one who had no place: Jesus.
—Written by: Abbey Ferreira