The census at Bethlehem by Peter Bruegel the younger 1605-1610
This is the day before Christmas. For some who are skating, spinning tops, fighting with snowballs or supping beer in the impromptu tavern set up in the hollow of a tree trunk, the holiday has already started. Others are still working. Two men improbably are building a house. For others the ‘shopping’ still has to be completed: sacks of corn and barrels are being loaded and despatched. A couple are carrying there stuff home in two large baskets. Food is being prepared. Two pigs are being butchered – one is blocking the inn door. The inn itself has been taken over by officials who are collecting taxes.
Does this feel like your Christmas Eve?
Nevertheless the Christmas mystery is slipping into the scene. Mary and Joseph are arriving, Mary grasping a wicker basket and sat on a donkey. Whether we are ready or not, God always finds a way into our Christmas.
In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’,
which means, ‘God is with us.’