So why was Jesus born at such a busy time of year? Surely God should have realised the shops would be busy and the sales wouldn't start 'til January!
The fact is, even 2000 years ago Jesus was born at a hectic time. Countless families were on the move to go to the place of their birth to take part in a population census. It wasn't usually a problem getting a bed for the night in Bethlehem, but as the heavily pregnant girl, Mary, knocked on the doors of guest houses looking for rest, she got turned away each time. No room. Eventually shelter was found out the back in some shared accommodation with the livestock - at least it would have been warm.
I struggle with Christmas - in the main because I think good will and peace to all men came and was banished to the shit house out the back. I don't think much has really changed. For most in the middle classes, it's an excuse for excess to the extreme, for others it's when poverty and loneliness become accentuated to the extreme. Occasionally they meet, and exchange pleasant greetings.
As the story is re-told, with varying forms of accuracy and sincerity I am reminded that the birth of Christ took place on the margins of society. He didn't enter humanity in the mainstream - his story became an experience of exclusion as he began his life as a homeless refugee. Maybe we can take heart from that though.
The Christmas message is about God entering our world in the frailty of humanity. Maybe God is still on the side of the rejected and the lonely.
Happy Christmas? Maybe, maybe not. Here's wishing you God's gift of grace and peace whatever the coming days and events bring.
Cheers and God bless ya.