The time came

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary...While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born.
— Luke 2:4-6

No one wants to go into labor in the middle of a trip they had no choice but to take; no one that I know, at least.

This is precisely what happened. While these two are still working through the timing of the pregnancy itself, the Emperor decides he needs a head count. So, “All went to their own (home) towns to be registered.“

These are the circumstances amidst which Mary goes into labor. It’s not all magic and perhaps much of the magic comes with hindsight and with the fact that you and I didn’t actually live it.

The time came, Luke tells us. I can’t help but read into that, the poor timing just would not let up.

The problem with the popular expression “timing is everything” is that it leads us to associate good things with timing that feels good to us. This might be me suggesting that some figures of speech are worth using sparingly. Mostly, I am wondering how I, for one, manage to fall out of touch with the disruptive quality of Christmas.

I think a felt sense of the upsetting pieces of the story matter. Let me say it this way: Sanitized of the disruptive elements, the birth of Jesus can only save the parts of lives and our life together that are, in our estimate, timed well...happening when and at the pace we prefer.

Friends, I am tired in a way that I have not been in a long while. I don’t want a cookie or even a gold star on my chart. But I do want to be honest: I never thought that moving a church from 30,000 square feet to 300 square feet would be part of it. I certainly never thought it would happen during the month of December.

The time came, though. It came unapologetically. While I teetered between resolve and despair and while I debated whether it was the bravest or silliest move of my ministry, I think I heard the borning cry of the One whose parents’ testimony, like the poor timing, just won’t quit.

Because the route is cluttered, things get overturned. There is upset. But God gets to the world, God gets to us, and God will get to you. At which point the wreckage will be revealed as not wreckage after all...’twas and ‘tis the trail of disruptive, healing, amazing grace.


Rachel May