"Where will we stay?" Mary asked.
"We'll find somewhere" Joseph replied.
He sounded more confident than he felt. The uncertainty of their accommodation was in contrast to the certainty of his reception from his relatives. They'd disowned him for the shame of marrying this pregnant girl. They hadn't listened to his dream. Still, in obedience to Caesar's decree, and to a greater calling that they were only beginning to understand, they wound their way along the well-worn path.
The chill wind stirred the dust as Mary and Joseph ascended to the crowded village. Further up the mountain range was the city of Jerusalem. But Bethlehem was David's city, and their destination. It was here, more than a thousand years earlier, that David's great-grandmother, Ruth, had settled with her mother-in-law. It was here that the barren foreigner's disgrace had been overcome by one man's gracious care. Joseph hoped that the story would repeat itself here.
The story of Joseph is a compelling picture of God's grace. He welcomed the disgraced Mary. He bore her shame. Their son, Jesus, would repeat that story, not just for one person but for each person ever made in the image of God. The story of God's grace revealed itself over, and over again in God's word. And it has been repeated across the centuries every time someone truly follows Jesus.
How can you re-enact this story of grace this Christmas? How will you reach out to the disgraced? The marginalised? The needy? Or the person who is too proud to admit their need? The person too frantic to notice their failure? How can you extend grace to the one determined to serve everyone else?
Will you give the gift of time? Will you pause and listen? Will you give up your parking spot? Will you give up your right to be angry? Will you speak a word of encouragement? Will you talk about Jesus?