The night we met Joseph and Mary

If the title startles you, it should. What a claim. Let me explain

For years, following our Christmas Eve services, my wife, our kids and I would travel downtown Roanoke with a mini-van full of cookies

, coffee, hot chocolate and warm clothing. Our desire was to show a homeless person the love of Christ on Christmas Eve. This was a meaningful time together for our family.

On one occasion, late at night, we were just about finished with our distribution we noticed a couple walking across an empty lot. The kids were eager to stop and distribute our goodies. My parents were with us and as we pulled along side the curb the kids and my wife climbed out of the van and offered the small gifts we had. Our kindness was received with joy and a request for prayer. The kids invited my dad and I to get out so we put the van in park and joined them for a time of prayer. This is when we learned their story. They had been turned away from Rescue Mission, which was already full and ha no beds available for them. They were from North Carolina, she was pregnant, they were not married and they were worried about spending this ni001ght in the bitter cold. We prayed with them got back into our van and pulled away. We didn’t drive very far before we began to discuss their plight and our responsibility to them. Had we really on Christmas Eve met a travelling, expectant, unmarried couple who had no room to stay? Would we do nothing about it?

Immediately we began driving around looking for them determined to get them a hotel room. A few minutes later we found them cuddled up on a park bench a few blocks away. We invited them to get in and took them to a local hotel for the night. We’ve never seen them again since that night.

Had we really met Joseph and Mary? No, not literally. What we had witnessed was the humility of the birth of our Lord. This story drove home a reality that we often lose in the glamor and beauty of the season. We are so good at decorating the manger and articulating the narrative that sometimes we forget the humiliation Christ embraced when he wrapped himself in skin.

Christmas is the message of the Incarnation of God. The amazing thing about Christmas is that the creator of the world wore human flesh, flesh like yours and mine, The flesh of a young unwed mother who had no place to stay the night of his birth. Someone put it like this, “A thousand times in history a baby has grown to become a king, but only once in history has a King stooped to become a baby”.

This is the message and meaning of Christmas. More than just the celebration of his birth Christmas is the epicenter of the human timeline where God entered into this world on a mission to redeem humanity from the universal condition of sin.

Christmas is the promise made and kept about Jesus. Christmas is the arrival of the Incarnate God as a baby wrapped in human flesh. Christmas is the visible unfolding of God’s plan to save the world from sin. Christmas is the dividing line in human history. All of these are centered around and focused upon the one we all love and serve Jesus. He is more than another religious figure who started a religion, he truly is the central figure of time and eternity, the darling of Heaven, the promise of God the creator and the longing of every human soul. This is Christmas!

I don’t know what ever happened to our “Joseph and Mary”.  My prayer is that they have come to know and serve the one, who like they, was homeless on Christmas Eve.


About Pastor Troy Keaton

Founding pastor at EastLake Community Church at Smith Mountain Lake Virginia. View all posts by Pastor Troy Keaton

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