Instead of fussing over how it really happened that first Noel, we might ask ourselves why we are drawn to telling a version in which the family is turned away, time after time.
God is hidden in plain sight, on the streets of Chicago and Jerusalem, suffering with humanity — crying that it hurts all over. We, like the shepherds, have stopped working, have allowed the rhythms of ordinary time to be interrupted, have lit our torches and brought our gifts. All of us together, caring for the fearful and the fragile, creating a circle of light in the darkness.
And isn’t that what they saw, when they got to Bethlehem, a family like theirs trying to get through the first night after a hard birth. This was the sign God offered to people walking in the dark of night. God has entered human experience the same way each one of us did, cold and small, fragile and dependent. God has not picked some other, better, life to inhabit. God has chosen your life.