Entering the stable

The stable where Jesus was born and placed in a manger. It serves as such a common part of our Christmas lore that we seldom take notice there was no mention of any actual stable in Luke’s Christmas story. Nowhere in scripture is Jesus ever associated with a stable; only a manger, and that only in Luke’s Gospel (LK 2:7). But for most everyone who reads or hears the story of Christ’s birth according to Luke, there is a stable that we enter in our own minds. In my mind, it is a room inside a barn-like hut or, befitting the times, a kind of cave in the earth covered by walls of timber and floors of straw and filled with the stench of animal dung. But a warm enough place to be in winter. A humble place, yet secure enough to be safe for childbirth.  That’s my mental image of the birthplace of Jesus. The stable.

Of course, there is in this particular Christmas story room for all of our minds to roam, to imagine, to decorate our nativity scene. When our imaginations fail, we easily resort to whatever commercial nativity crèche we attach to our store displays or church décor. The stable is somehow necessary for the story itself in our minds. We cannot picture a baby Jesus without a manger, nor a manger without a stable in which to situate the story.

We will always need a stable to enter in our own minds when we think of Christmas.

Chances are quite high that if you’ve spent time over the years in any Christian Church during the Christmas season of celebration, some preacher somewhere has spun the story of Luke to somehow mean that instead of a room in the Inn, there was an even warmer place available for childbirth. Yep. The stable. Best place to be on a cold winter’s night. And the manger of hay befitting a soft bed needed? Better than any extra firm Serta Pillow-Top when it came to keeping a newborn warm through the night and day to follow.

I always needed that little preacherly spin just to avoid feeling guilty for all those other sermons in which I was failing to make room in my heart for the baby Jesus to be born. After so many “no room in YOUR Inn” messages, I appreciated the relief that the “warm, soft stable, best room in the house after all” would offer me.

We will always need a stable to enter in our own minds when we think of Christmas.

So now fast forward to December 2015. Missed the latest TV news? No worries. Just listen to the person nearby at the table or the office or the store or the party. It’s bad news. Really bad. Missed the latest memes on Facebook? Missed the morning newspaper? Not a problem. Someone will call to fill you in on how bad things are in the world. In our nation. Our state. Our city. Or down the block in our own neighborhood.

Chances are quite high if you’ve spent time this year hearing about, or from, people anywhere, you’ve noticed there’s little room for common sense in our world anymore. No room in that Inn. People are crazy. The world has gone nuts. The planet is in chaos. Things seem so unstable.

And so we need a stable to enter in the midst of an unstable world. Different kind of stable. But just as warm. Just as safe. Just as soft. Yep. We all need some stability in our lives right now.

Enter this kind of stable today with me and I believe it’s where you’ll find Jesus.

When the world itself seems most unwelcoming, most afraid, most violent, most out of control………. most unstable. That’s when, come Christmas, we need to re-enter the stable of Jesus. Nothing high tech. Nothing expensive. Nothing to place on the credit card. Just the stable. Just Jesus. The Christ who comes to seek. To save. To liberate. To proclaim good news for a change. To stable-eyes our world that God still so loves even this December 2015.

Let’s enter that place together right now in our own minds. And let’s worship the gift of His presence.

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