This week I wanted to play with the idea of the alternative nativity. Most of our images of the nativity is with Mary and Joseph in a shed in the middle of a field all alone. It would seem that historical research in modern times actually gives us a different understanding. The word we use for inn does not accurately reflect what they were trying to talk about. More it was that all the guest rooms in the homes were full, so they would have had to bunk down with the family. Probably in the middle of the house with the animals which was probably a good thing as it was warmer there than anywhere else. The place would have been busy and there would have been lots of people. Including midwives to help in the birth.
Some say what does it matter? It is interesting how my perceptions of God changed when I found this out.. Living in a very individualistic culture I read the original nativity story as cruel and heartless, that poor Mary was left alone, to give birth to her firstborn. A young couple with no idea and no support. Having had children let me tell you it is a scary time. Even with modern medicine I still knew things could go wrong and that both mine and my baby’s life was at risk.I was grateful for the wisdom of midwives and the companionship of older women.We assume in this culture that the love of two people is enough. I much prefer the concept that it takes a whole village to raise a child, making the best of everyone’s gifts and skills and sharing them with the whole community.
As I have got older and watched the people around me as new babies enter our world, most people are drawn to newborns, it is like they want to give their blessing to them, or an understanding that they have witnessed a miracle. It brings such joy and delight. Even if they were among strangers, there is a common love of children, particularly babies and most people would do whatever they could to help.” I have this and I have that” , they want to share, help.
For me it reminds me, that God’s relationship with us is not just one on one, my Jesus my Saviour, but that this child was born into a loving supportive community, of doting aunties, excitable children and proud uncles. God does not just dump us on this earth alone expecting us to find our way to God or to succeed. Jesus wasn’t just about God’s love but was born into the best of love, making room where there wasn’t any, finding support amongst strangers and generosity out of nothing. This is the exciting creativity of God for me this year. A reminder of the importance of community and that we are not alone, not just because God is with us but also that there are others who have love to share. May you find people who are kind this year, may love be your companion and may the joy and delight of new life fill your heart with hope for a better world. Merry Christmas.