December 25th is the traditional day the church celebrates the birth of our Lord. No one knows the exact day though it is believed that it was just before the Passover for that is the only time of year that shepherds and sheep would be near the semi-desert town of Bethlehem. Bethlehem was the staging area for the sheep and lambs that would be sacrificed at Passover. Also, shepherds keep their flocks in open fields during the spring and summer. In the winter they would fence the sheep so they could sleep in a warm building. Bethlehem’s average spring lows are in the 50s F and the highs are in the 70s. The year is 5 or 6 B.C. coinciding with the well-documented facts in Luke 1 and 2.
I have heard and read so many things about the day God became flesh. This year it struck me how alone and isolated Joseph and Mary were. They were far away from family and friends in Bethlehem, to them an unknown small village. Joseph may have visited Bethlehem before, but not likely. Bethlehem was full of Passover pilgrims and those there for the census. No one helped a pregnant teenage lady and a poor carpenter. They were on their own.
Rome decreed that only males were to register for their census. So why did Joseph bring pregnant Mary to Bethlehem? Mary visited her aged aunt Elizabeth and uncle Zechariah in the hill country of Judea (Luke 1:39) for 3 months and then returned to Nazareth (Luke 1:56). Upon her return to Nazareth, no respectable Jew would want to associate with a pregnant harlot and male companion. Her parents would have disowned her. She would have no home, income, or friends. So naturally, Joseph in obedience to the angle and in a new love for Mary would accept her into his care. Not wanting to abandon her, Joseph took her with him to Nazareth.
God came to lonely dissolute Joseph and Mary in a way they would not have imagined when they became socially lonely outcasts. Those who are alone on this Christmas day can look to see how the Lord will show himself to them in his most unusual way.