Can Anything Good Come From Nazareth?     There is a war on Christmas this year. This much is true. It does not involve wrapping paper, the color of coffee cups, department stores wishing happy holiday instead of merry Christmas or manger scenes on courthouse. That kind of talk always turns into silliness and folly. But there is a war all the same.     Can anything good come out of Nazareth?  It is an honest question that Nathanial asked. It was a dirty, filthy, impoverished place.  Even the Gentile readers of John knew of it reputation. They had probably heard of the story of Sepphoris, less than an hour’s walk from Joseph and Mary’s home. Joseph probably walked those four miles for supplies many times. It is certain that Jesus probably knew some of the terrorist that had been under the command of Judas, a ruthless, violent man. He might have heard the hushed stories of how they seized Herod’s palace and the arsenal there, how the Roman governor of Syria, Quintilius Varus, sent troops in.      The city of Sepphoris burned for three days. The memories still alive, the shroud of black smoke that almost blocked out the sun during the day and the crackling embers and flames that glowed throughout the night that could be seen for miles, the screams of women and children, and the sick smell of death that clung in the air.     The Romans nailed two thousand men to crosses across the countryside to serve as a reminder. Mary could have even been in the early stages of pregnancy when the last man was finally cut down. Refugees, shattered lives, criminals terrorizing those that somehow survived. This is the God Christians follow and two thousand years later the question still remains. Can anything good come from Nazareth? Can anything come from Syria?       A young couple. Her heavy with child. He exhausted from a long journey. A strange city. No friends. All the fears of being new parents clinging to them both. Her so close to delivery. I cannot imagine the franticness of each knock. The swallowing of pride, the cracking in his voice, “Do you have any room? We have nowhere to go. Please, she is about to give birth. Please, I don’t know what to do. Please…”      Another door slams, and they move on to the next place down the road. I cannot believe that there was no one room available in the entire town of Bethlehem. Maybe the homeowners thought they could get a little more money than this poor couple had, maybe it was their accent or clothes. What good could come of it? Can anything good come from Nazareth? Can anything good possibly come from taking poor strangers in?     Finally, in what must have seemed like forever, an eternity of waiting, a lifetime of fears, someone said, “Well, there is some room out with the animals.” Calling it a manger makes it seem kind of sweet, rustic and quaint. There in the filth and the smells, a place barely warm enough to keep the animals from freezing in the night, she gave birth. When you hold your child, there is the terrifying realization that its every breath depends on you. You truly are never carefree again. And there they were. Her sleeping the sleep of a new mother. He, trying to keep his eyes open, leaning against his staff. All alone.     This is the Christian God. A child of a young couple that door after door were slammed in their face.  No one wanted him in their homes. Can anything good come from Nazareth?  What people would want these three refugees from a violent place in their home?     Yet, this young couple will have time for dreams of the future or plans for whatever may come. If one listens, they can hear the boots of the soldiers marching in time. The boots stop. Silence. A knock on a distant door. Voices. The cracking of wood. The screams. The begging pleas. That sickening sound that one can never forget. Then the wailing of a mother who will never know peace again.  Silence. The boots start up again, marching in time. Silence. Another door. Another knock. More weeping that will not cease. One can just pray Mary and Joseph make their escape.
Can Anything Good Come From Nazareth?     There is a war on Christmas this year. This much is true. It does not involve wrapping paper, the color of coffee cups, department stores wishing happy holiday instead of merry Christmas or manger scenes on courthouse. That kind of talk always turns into silliness and folly. But there is a war all the same.     Can anything good come out of Nazareth?  It is an honest question that Nathanial asked. It was a dirty, filthy, impoverished place.  Even the Gentile readers of John knew of it reputation. They had probably heard of the story of Sepphoris, less than an hour’s walk from Joseph and Mary’s home. Joseph probably walked those four miles for supplies many times. It is certain that Jesus probably knew some of the terrorist that had been under the command of Judas, a ruthless, violent man. He might have heard the hushed stories of how they seized Herod’s palace and the arsenal there, how the Roman governor of Syria, Quintilius Varus, sent troops in.      The city of Sepphoris burned for three days. The memories still alive, the shroud of black smoke that almost blocked out the sun during the day and the crackling embers and flames that glowed throughout the night that could be seen for miles, the screams of women and children, and the sick smell of death that clung in the air.     The Romans nailed two thousand men to crosses across the countryside to serve as a reminder. Mary could have even been in the early stages of pregnancy when the last man was finally cut down. Refugees, shattered lives, criminals terrorizing those that somehow survived. This is the God Christians follow and two thousand years later the question still remains. Can anything good come from Nazareth? Can anything come from Syria?       A young couple. Her heavy with child. He exhausted from a long journey. A strange city. No friends. All the fears of being new parents clinging to them both. Her so close to delivery. I cannot imagine the franticness of each knock. The swallowing of pride, the cracking in his voice, “Do you have any room? We have nowhere to go. Please, she is about to give birth. Please, I don’t know what to do. Please…”      Another door slams, and they move on to the next place down the road. I cannot believe that there was no one room available in the entire town of Bethlehem. Maybe the homeowners thought they could get a little more money than this poor couple had, maybe it was their accent or clothes. What good could come of it? Can anything good come from Nazareth? Can anything good possibly come from taking poor strangers in?     Finally, in what must have seemed like forever, an eternity of waiting, a lifetime of fears, someone said, “Well, there is some room out with the animals.” Calling it a manger makes it seem kind of sweet, rustic and quaint. There in the filth and the smells, a place barely warm enough to keep the animals from freezing in the night, she gave birth. When you hold your child, there is the terrifying realization that its every breath depends on you. You truly are never carefree again. And there they were. Her sleeping the sleep of a new mother. He, trying to keep his eyes open, leaning against his staff. All alone.     This is the Christian God. A child of a young couple that door after door were slammed in their face.  No one wanted him in their homes. Can anything good come from Nazareth?  What people would want these three refugees from a violent place in their home?     Yet, this young couple will have time for dreams of the future or plans for whatever may come. If one listens, they can hear the boots of the soldiers marching in time. The boots stop. Silence. A knock on a distant door. Voices. The cracking of wood. The screams. The begging pleas. That sickening sound that one can never forget. Then the wailing of a mother who will never know peace again.  Silence. The boots start up again, marching in time. Silence. Another door. Another knock. More weeping that will not cease. One can just pray Mary and Joseph make their escape.
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