Isaiah 9:6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
We get this idyllic view of the Christ Childs birth, a peaceful night with shepherds hanging out, snow coming down and everything is right with the universe. Now Gods protective angels certainly did make sure that they were protected. And I am sure that the manager was sterilized and clean. (It was a feeding trough for animals. Early tradition suggests is was a cave used a manger). I am sure that the animals had no diseases that were lingering around. And the Roman soldiers who were insuring that everyone was accountable to be surveyed for the census were easy to work with. And King Herod was a very just king and wanted the child to sleep in peace. (He killed his wife and 3 sons). And they this new family was certainly very mobile and Mary probably had no issues in the birthing of the child. I am sure that Joseph was not scared at all. Have you ever been in child birth? Back then a 1/3rd of the babies did not make it.
The infant mortality rate in the first century Roman Empire was about 30%. Nearly a third of all babies died before the age of 1. Compare that to the United States in 2016, where less the infant mortality rate is less than half of a percent (.46%). Being born was risky business.
The gospel stories describe Mary’s pregnancy and delivery as more complicated than most. She was young and unmarried, facing the stress of possible rejection from her family and community. There was the long journey in the final week of her pregnancy, by donkey. I can only imagine how that conversation went, when Joseph told her of the emperor’s decree–well, honey, you’ve always said you wanted to travel… And then no room at the inn, and only a cold, dark barn with the animals for a delivery room.
Central to the theology of the Incarnation is Jesus’ vulnerability. He did great deeds, mighty signs of God’s power, yes. But he was also weak, exposed, and at some points, defenseless.
This is who came to bring salvation to the world. You have a blessed Christmas as you go out and share Christ’s love.