An extraordinarily ordinary Christmas
A few weeks ago, Lindsay, Ellie and I got to play Mary, Joseph and Jesus at the church. During this event, I read to the children the Christmas Story, which was adapted from Luke’s Gospel.
As I read the story, I started to laugh to myself because of how simple the story was, and then I went to my Bible to see if that is really how the birth of Jesus is fully recorded. This is how Luke retells the birth of Jesus: “While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son…” (Luke 2:6-7).
After Lindsay and I had Ellie we would bore any poor soul who would listen to us talk about the nervous excitement we had that morning, the drive to the hospital and the whole experience of Ellie coming into this world. Yet Luke’s retelling of Christ’s birth is simply: “It was time, she gave birth…;” An odd way to describe the central event to the Incarnation.
One has to wonder why the story of a birth, especially the birth of Jesus, would not try to describe a fuller picture of the event. What was the manger like? What was Joseph thinking? Did they wonder if the angel would be right and that this would be a boy? Was Mary afraid? Were the sheep “baaing” and the cows “mooing” or were they reverently silent? How can the birth of Jesus Christ–“God with Us”– be summed up in three Greek words?
Personally, I believe that in the Gospel account God had a distinct purpose. The story is setting the stage for the transformative event that is about to occur. Jesus’ birth into the world was like a pebble going into a lake. It was unnoticeable at first, but it began a huge ripple effect as God emerged from the manger in Bethlehem and began heading towards the cross.
We must remember that God choose to break into our human existence not with a bang and a bolt of lightening, but with the powerfully weak cry of a new born baby. It was a plain and ordinary event with extraordinary results.
It is my prayer that this Christmas weekend, you would be able reflect upon how the small phrase “she gave birth to a son” has radically transformed your life and the entire world.
Rev. Wes Barry