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It has all the feel of undesired, desperate homelessness — more like a scene we’d find under a bridge than under our Christmas tree. We know this story, but as we see it as it really was, it seems so wrong. And echoing in our ears are our own words, “Surely we can find some room somewhere! The real Christmas was nothing like the Christmas we’ve come to know, with its traditions, memories, and legends.

And we are hit with the shock of a truth we’ve known all our lives: This young girl just gave birth to a baby — — in a pasture! It was a desperate moment that occurred for a desperate reason.

The Word became flesh (John ) so that the Word could become sin for us condemned sinners, and die for us that we might be made righteous in him (2 Corinthians ).

He is author of three books, Not by Sight, Things Not Seen, and Don’t Follow Your Heart. We look back at the girl and the child, just as Palestinian darkness begins to swirl with a familiar light.

He and his wife live in the Twin Cities with their five children. Advent — a season, so full of tradition, so full of memory, so full of legend. Suddenly, we find ourselves standing where Luke had found us.

And as we do, all we see begins to swirl into an unfamiliar darkness. The smoky scents of fire, foods, burning oils, and manure smell strange. She has bits of straw in her long, messy, dark hair, and she is wrapped in dirty cloaks and a blanket. Our Advent traditions did not prepare us for the earthy realness of the real Advent. We are unnerved to realize that, had we not already known, we would not have recognized him at all. But seared in our minds is the pathetic picture of the holy, homeless mother and child.Suddenly, we find ourselves standing in what we somehow know is a small, ancient Palestinian village on an unusually starry night. A split-second look tells us how difficult this night has been for her. Even more distressing, we see beside her a small, crude, dirty feeding trough in which lays a sleeping newborn, wrapped tightly in unsanitary, blood-smeared cloths. This scene, the real Christmas, has nothing of the feeling of the Christmas we know. He, calmly looking from the child to us, quietly says, “There was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). No place besides a field for the Maker of the world? Bustling and bursting Bethlehem had no room for the advent of Jesus.And a season so full, often over-full, bustling and bursting with the exhausting activity of keeping traditions, creating memories, and recalling legends. Luke leads us beyond the village and down a dark, twisting rocky path to some ignored, ignoble spot where we suddenly come upon a sight that we find surprisingly disturbing. There are the Christmas lists, the half-trimmed tree, the holiday movie paused, and pans in the sink.And as Advent begins, Luke comes to us, as a kind of holy ghost of Christmas past, bidding us to lay aside for the moment our Christmas lists, leave the half-trimmed tree, pause the holiday movie, dry our hands from washing the cookie pans, and follow him. Not ten feet away, asleep on the ground, near a small fire that has burned down to embers, is a peasant girl. It does not look anything like the manger scenes and illustrated books of our childhood. And no divine, heavenly glow emanates from the child. In fact, there is nothing about this child to suggest the unfathomable mystery of who he is. The familiar stress of the bustling and bursting schedule of Advent activities reawakens.

Rose Publishing creates full-color products (award-winning books, wall charts, pamphlets, DVD-based curriculum, and Power Points®).They are designed for personal, church, small group, and school use, and are packed with easy-to-understand diagrams, illustrations, maps, photos, charts, and time lines to bring Christian teachings to life.