I was encouraged last week to remember the realness of Christmas. I usually focus on the beauty, the holiness, the wonderment of Christ's birth. This week I have paused to remember the actual elements of the nativity.
When I was pregnant, I was often very uncomfortable riding in my car. The donkey that Mary rode was not a comfortable ride.
The countryside may have been beautiful but Mary and Joseph traveled a long way. Traveling is hard, especially walking or being pregnant riding on a donkey.
There were animals in the stable. They were probably goats or camels. They were not cows like in my picture. But they weren't any cleaner than these cows. The stable was dirty. The animals were dirty.
The stable might not have been a stable at all. It might have been a cave. Either way, it didn't look like this barn. But looking at the barn helped me imagine the coolness of the night. I can imagine the animal sounds and smells.
The shepherds that came to see Jesus had been tending sheep. They came just as they were. They smelled like sheep.
In the still of that "Silent Night" there was a newborn baby crying.
It is powerful to think about the dirt, the cold, the smells, and the noise. The raw elements of the nativity are beautiful because they are genuine.
I am thankful for the realness of the Christmas story. I am thankful for the humble origin of a Saviour. The simple beginning reminds me that God uses the small.
This is what I am thankful for this Thursday.