For His Bed A Cattle Stall

By Justin Rossow

“Infant holy, infant lowly, for his bed a cattle stall…

I wonder why so many people go out of their way to get together over Christmas. I don’t know how many times my calendar has been full to overflowing. I always think we should move half of those gatherings to February! But we never do—not because we have extra time in December. So why do we get together at Christmas?

Maybe we gather for feasts and gift exchanges because the experience is so wonderful we want to do it again and again. Sometimes I think the ideal of family time together is part of the motivation. And gathering with family and friends at Christmas really can be wonderful!

But I also know that the ideal is far from the reality. For all people sometimes, and for some people all the time, Christmas can bring guilt and shame and anger and jealousy and old grievances and new heartaches. When sinful people get together, sin happens.

Why do we get together?

I wonder if, despite the hassle and the bustle, regardless of the ways we hurt each other, deep down we somehow know, we belong together. These people, even in their brokenness, are still your people. So being together is fundamentally right, even when it’s hard.

I think that’s what brings the Son of God to a simple cattle stall: these people are His people. They belong together.

There’s no room in the inn, and no royal welcome for the child; just swaddling clothes and a bed of hay. The eternal glory of the Father’s throne fades into the tender eyes of a young woman, suddenly a mother, and the strange welcome of shepherds with visions. The world spins busily by, but on that night, in spite of the brokenness, Jesus said, “We belong together.” And made His bed with us.

The Word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood; your neighborhood. Your busyness and brokenness won’t keep Jesus away.

Maybe there’s no room in your inn this Christmas; Jesus doesn’t care. He’ll sleep wherever. The important thing is this: Jesus wants to be with you. You belong together.

Thus rejoicing, free from sorrow, praises voicing, greet the morrow:
Christ the babe was born for you! Christ the babe was born for you!

This devotion was originally published as part of Light in the Darkness: A Hymn Journal for Advent and Christmas from Next Step Press.

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