To truly embrace the idea of Expectation we let’s think for a few moments on hospitality and welcoming others. When our church hosted the Bethlehem Live for so many years we always included the part where Joseph and Mary are shown to a stable. Exclusion stings.
I’ve often wondered exactly what that meant for Jesus’ family. During those times you would not necessarily have an Inn that would function as our Hotels and Motels do but rather individuals would host travelers in their homes. Travelers would simply go to the town square or some other noticeable spot and then would be invited to share a home with whomever passed by. Hospitality, and the opportunity to welcome others, was taken very seriously.
And yet Luke reveals to us that Jesus’ family did not receive this kind of welcome. Was it because Joseph’s family, whom they presumably would have been traveling with and potentially staying with, knew that Mary was pregnant before her marriage to Joseph? Did Joseph, in his attempt to look out for Mary, make sure that he stayed away from crowded places or maybe even people they knew?
Whatever the case we know that at the time of Jesus’ birth that they found themselves among the animals. Forgotten. Outcasts. There was no space for them.
To embrace Expectation, the truth that God has come and is present with us, then we have the opportunity to serve as the welcoming people. The people who take joy in making sure others are recognized and acknowledged. The people who take pains to ensure that uncomfortable situations are straightened to help the weak feel secure.
In a world where we can communicate with just a few pushes of buttons and be seen and heard all over the world, we are surrounded by those who do not feel welcome. Welcome someone today. Serve them. In this place you will find your own heart beginning to swell in expectation of Christmas.