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She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn

Luke 2:7

This has been a year of immense struggle for many.  The number of I was a brand new mum, my son was about a week old and I was sleep deprived, brain addled and body frazzled.  It was 2am and my little one wasn’t settling.  My husband scooped him up and spent the next few hours pacing up and down quietly singing to soothe our baby and allow me to rest.

The story of Joseph is one of gentle care and concern.  He so wanted to do the right thing, even if it took a nudge from God to show him what the right thing was.  We don’t know what Joseph thought about what he was being asked to do as we don’t have any of his words recorded in scripture, just his actions.  We have his faithful response and his getting on with the task at hand.  The task of loving and protecting and raising God’s precious son.

This Christmas is likely to be challenging with more muted celebrations.  Usually we think of ourselves as joining the heavenly host of angels singing ‘Glory to God in the highest’ but perhaps this year we should think of ourselves as pacing the floor with Joseph in the middle of the night, as he settles baby Jesus on his shoulder.

people having to rely on Foodbanks has risen sharply and Marcus Rashford was recognised for his work to raise the awareness of child food poverty in the UK.  These are challenging times.  

This year I think of Mary as she faced a long journey while heavily pregnant and having to give birth and place her tiny baby boy in a manger, an animal feeding trough, because there was no room for them at the inn.  No room.  What a sad thought. 

It feels significant to me that Jesus’ birthplace, the birthplace of the king, of God’s precious Son, was not a palace, but a makeshift room with a makeshift bed.  God makes his home in the seemingly insignificant places.  He makes his home in whatever place has room for him, no matter how humble and small.

Do we have room for Jesus this Christmas?  Space to offer him in our hearts?  And do we have room for those who Jesus made room for?  Those on the margins of society, those who struggle through poverty or ill health.   Jesus said ‘whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’.