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Advent 4: Family

One of the things that has always bothered me about the Christmas story is the whole “no room in the inn” thing.

Because of the census, Joseph takes Mary to Bethlehem. The image I always got was that they arrived after dark. I had this image of a family pulling into a town on vacation needing a place to stay.

Then one Christmas it dawned on me: Joseph took Mary to his hometown, the town where his family originated. So if you go to the town where family is why would you be looking for an inn? Wouldn’t you just go to cousin Samuel’s house and bunk down there? I mean, come on. Picture it: Joseph and his obviously very pregnant wife roll into town–you would think that someone would at least let them crash in a corner of the living room.

But no. And I began to wonder why. And then I wondered if it was because of his very expectant wife. Joseph could have dismissed Mary and probably should have in the eyes of his family. He got himself into this mess, let him take care of it.

Family. We do some pretty odd and even hurtful things to one another. There is so much talk about dysfunctional families these days that I sometimes wonder what a functional family really looks like.

As I have read the story of God’s people in the Word, I have found many stories of fractured families. I think of Moses, Abraham, Joseph and his brothers, Jacob and Esau, David and his brothers, and then David and his children. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

Throughout each of these situations I see God working to try and restore relationships. We were created for relationship–with God and with each other.

What a gift it would be and what joy we could find if in this season of Advent we would mind the heart of God and seek to restore broken relationships, whether they are in our family or amongst our friends. Or maybe in the family we call the church.

No one should have to sleep in a barn when family is nearby. Let’s allow the God’s love and grace to remove the dysfunction so we can better function relationally and bring honor and glory to him.

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