The first Christmas shared by Mary and Joseph, some ragged shepherds and an angelic host, was anything but “calm and bright,” as we sing in our carol “Silent Night.” In fact, it was disruptive, inconvenient, uncomfortable and fraught with uncertainty. Jesus did not enter the world in the calm that we portray Christmas to be.
He came into the midst of chaos. In fact, the English language corrupted the name of the village of Christ’s birth, Bethlehem, and shortened it to Bedlam… the name of a city-run asylum for the mentally ill. Bedlam entered our vocabulary as a name signifying chaos and disorder… anything but peace.
Jesus was born in “bedlam.” A cattle shelter which probably had only a roof and no sides, or, if they were fortunate, a cave where animals would be kept. Not the “stuff” of our nativity scenes today. The overcrowded village, as I have compared before, would be like getting a room in Starke if the Super Bowl was being played there!
That makes more sense to me. Jesus did not come to lie peacefully in a cattle stall. He came to dwell in our woundedness, our chaos, our hurt… in short, our humanity. What we forget is, He started His journey there. “Bedlam” captures that better than “all is calm, all is bright.”
Oh, let’s keep the song. I think it’s important, however to realize that the words “all is calm, all is bright,” do not describe the place of His coming to earth…
… it describes the heart where He is welcomed today.
“To as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become sons of God.” John 1:12
Father in Heaven, we thank You again for giving us the right to be Your children, and the right to come to You in prayer. Thank You for sending Jesus to come into the bedlam of our lives and make our hearts places of peace….”calm and bright.” The peace of Christ that You give meets us at our most broken and vulnerable places and restores and renews us. We are thankful You did not pull away when we needed You most… but came and gave and saved us. May we never cease to praise You for the ultimate gift of Your Son, our Savior, Jesus. We pray in His beautiful name, Amen.