“’This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’” Luke 2:12
The shepherds have just been given a birth announcement and now they are told how to find the child. Now they are to be looking for a Messiah – a savior of God’s people. You would think that they are to go to the nicest house in the neighborhood, maybe at the center of tow or in the newly-wed suite in the inn. But the angel tells them to find the poorest place in the whole village and follow their nose. For the shepherds, this seems to confirm that the angel’s news is to be believed. But what does it do for us? Why would God choose to be born in a smelly cattle shed? Why wasn’t Jesus born to parents who had a little more money? For that reason, why wasn’t Jesus born in a priestly home in Jerusalem? How can we know that this angel is speaking the truth to us?
For the same reason that this Messiah, this Lord and Savior is not like any pre-conceived notions of a savior. This Lord is not going to march on Jerusalem and take power away from Rome through fighting. This Lord is going to save his people by giving away his life to Rome. Blood will be shed but it will be Jesus’ own blood. This is the sign for us and for all the people. This is a different savior, one who is God with us, born not in a palace but in a barn.
God, you do things differently. You didn’t enter the world like everyone thought you should. You entered where you were least expected. Enter in us today – in the least likely places of our poor and messy lives. Amen.