What would Jesus think if I showed up in Bethlehem?
I’ve been trying to spend some time each day during this Christmas season at the nativity scene, wondering about the thoughts, emotions, and experiences of each character. And I found myself wondering how Jesus would respond to the presence of a disabled person in that holy circle.
I’d probably try to stay away. I’d list endless excuses to stay in my own warm, safe environment and let someone else go.
I don’t do cold very well. Bethlehem isn’t wheelchair accessible—no pavement, dirty streets filled with all sorts of obstacles. So when I showed up I’d be reluctant, maybe even angry or bitter. Would He notice? Would it matter?
I always interrupt. I’d need help across the rough floor. Perhaps one of the Magi or a shepherd would leave his place to assist, or maybe an angel would clear a path for me. One of the animals might need to move. I hate causing so much commotion.
They came to see Him, not to help me. Would my presence break the mood?
I’d need a place near the front. Someone else might move farther away so I could see from my seated perspective.
Everyone wants the good seats, the best places. Everyone wants to be close to Jesus. Would my special need cause resentment?
Others brought gifts. My hands fumble with wrapping, and the ruts and bumps and jolts make carrying a package impossible.
I didn’t bring anything with eternal symbolic value or meaning. Would He think I wasn’t grateful?
Everyone else kneels in worship and praise, but I can’t assume the customary posture of humility. I can only slump forward and hope muscle spasms don’t cause me to lurch onto the floor. I don’t look like I’m worshipping.
Would the others question my sincerity? Would He be offended?
I’m crashing a party for special guests. The Magi received an astrological invitation along with the first GPS directions. Shepherds were summoned by an angel’s proclamation. But I just showed up with no special summons.
Nobody will compose a carol about a wheelchair and a manger. I won’t have a part in the Christmas programs. Would my presence destroy the symmetry of a carefully choreographed eternal moment?
Perhaps I should just hang back and observe from a respectful distance. I don’t fit in; I don’t want others making a fuss. I can’t really participate anyway.
I don’t belong here.
You see it, right? The excuses and self-pity, the misplaced focus that completely misses the point of the gathering?
IT’S NOT ABOUT ME!
It’s not about neatly wrapped gifts or carefully chosen guests. It’s not about bumpy floors or animal poop in my wheels or who gets to sit in front.
It’s not about whether I go. It’s about the fact that He came.
What makes you feel like you don’t belong?