I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, dear friends. I did. As I drove home, hugged family, and took part in all the traditions that make the holiday what it is…this phrase ran constantly through my mind.
Home to be counted, home to be counted…
As I thought about it off and on, along with the Christmas story, this is where I landed:
Luke 2: 1-5
“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.”
In other words, Joseph went all that way to be counted and taxed, because Bethlehem was his family home.
He loaded up poor Mary “great with child“, took only what he needed, and traveled that distance to a town that was so over-run with other people who “were of the house and lineage of David“, only to find that there was no place for him, Mary, or the unborn child.
I can only imagine that this felt very far from where he felt “at home”, and yet, there he was: HOME.
No welcome with open arms.
No freshly baked bread.
No warm bed.
Not even a single soul that knew him beyond his name on a tax census.
I thought a lot about Joseph this Christmas….how like his experience on the first Christmas mirrors the struggles that continue to plague mankind.
Loneliness. Feeling lost at “home”. Worry. Fear.
You and I know the list could go on.
With Joseph’s obedience, our Savior was born, wrapped in flesh, and prepared to save us from all of those things we fear the most.
Joseph went home to be counted, to be taxed—to an unfamiliar place. Through Jesus, however, we have been singled out and counted by the ONE..
…who counts the hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7a–“But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered…”)
…who formed us in the womb before we were born (Jer. 1:5a–“Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee…”
…calls us by our names (Jer. 43:1–“But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.”)
…who made us carefully and after His own image (Ps. 139:14–“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” and Genesis 1:27)
HE, who was born in a “hometown” that could not have felt less “homey”, has become our HOME.
So, no matter where Christmas took you this year. Or who you spent it with. Or who you didn’t spend it with. Or anything that rocked your home and made it feel as unfamiliar as Bethlehem must have felt to Joseph…
Remember this thought: We are at home in Him. He has counted us. He knows us by name. He sees us. Be encouraged.
You matter to HIM.
May you, like the unlikely shepherds on Christmas, find hope and joy in the angelic message that has been recorded for us in Luke 2:8-14.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
Glory to God, indeed, friends!