While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Luke 2:6-7

Extra readings: Luke 2: 1-7; Leviticus 19: 34; Deuteronomy 14: 28, 29

Before we dive in, let's just set the record straight: Joseph and Mary were probably not staying in the stable of an inn. I know that every nativity scene you've ever seen places Jesus and his folks amid straw and cattle, but was this actually the case? Ancient Jewish hospitality suggests otherwise. There is no way that Joseph would have gone to a town where he had family and not stayed with them – they would have made room. This is probably a more accurate picture of the nativity. In all likelihood, even though there was not a guest room available, Joseph and his family were invited to stay in the common room where the animals slept – it was the practise to have your animals in the house with you, though they would remain in the dirtiest part of it.

So, was the place dingy and dirty and low? For sure. But was it in a stranger's barn? Probably not. Even in a time when the town was overrun with visitors, even when all the guest rooms were full, we can assume that Joseph had family there and they made a room for him and his wife and the child she was carrying.

What is your Christmas time looking like? No doubt you also feel overwhelmed by end of year deadlines, seasonal expectations, family obligations... but can you also make room for Jesus? Can you also find the time and space to honour him. Can you receive this most precious gift this Christmas?


Jesus, you deserve more time and space than a dirty, low animal-room. In spite of all that I have going on, today I want to make a change and give you what you deserve: my whole life.

Want to do this devotional as a family?

1. Prepare by talking about Christmas where you stay. If you stay in a holiday centre, chances are it gets more crowded at Christmas time. If you don’t stay in such a place, your town probably empties out at Christmas time. Ask the children if they’ve noticed that.        
2. Begin by allowing each person to share about their dream holiday. What kind of trip would they like to go on if they could choose any kind of holiday?
3. Explain that when Joseph and Mary went on their trip they ended up in a place that was already very crowded with holiday makers. There was no room but some family offered to let them stay in the room with the goats and chickens. Discuss this.
4. Finish by praying and blessing each child, then allow them to open their Day 17 Advent Calendar.