It’s Christmas and it’s a time when family traditions thrive. Over the years, we get rather accustomed to the traditions of the season. The special dinners, the fresh baked cookies, decorating the tree, the candlelight church service, opening presents Christmas morning…
We also become very accustomed to hearing the basic Christmas story of Jesus being born of the Virgin Mary and placed in a manger. We’re accustomed to hearing of the shepherds, wise men, and angels. We see it visually in the small nativity scenes on the mantle or in the yard. We hear it in the sermon at church. We hear of it in carols. Perhaps we even read it ourselves. Even many who have little to no experience with church or Christianity in general know the story. Perhaps because it is so familiar or perhaps because we are just so accustomed to it, especially in this country, we take the true Christmas story for granted most of the time. I’m guilty of this too. When we take the story for granted, we miss out on the overwhelming display of love and God’s character that is revealed in just the physical arrival of our Savior on this earth some 2000 years ago.
Jesus left a paradise better than ANY earthly paradise you can think of and came to the earth in the form of a baby. Jesus left a place free of suffering to come into the world where there is an endless supply of physical and emotional suffering. People both rich and poor must face suffering but the impoverished often face additional plights. Jesus was born into a life of poverty where he surely faced some physical discomfort. He could have come in the form of an independent adult king and the simple fact that he came down from heaven for us would still be astounding. He takes it steps further by coming in the form of a baby that needed its mother’s nurturing. He was born under harsh (and rather unsanitary) conditions and placed a feeding trough for animals. I mean seriously! The Savior of the world…the King of Kings…came into the world as a dependent baby, was born in a smelly stable, and laid not even in a cradle but in a borrowed feeding trough. Just take a moment for that to sink in.
From day one Jesus could identify with the plights of humans. He was born right into the mess of this world. He came to get messy. He came to deal with the mess we made and the sin we bore. The story of Jesus’ birth is not some trivial story but rather a crucial piece of the overall picture of God’s extraordinary, unfathomable love for His people. This Christmas I pray that you and I take some time to be in awe of our wonderful God and the event that we celebrate with traditions and fanfare. May we never take Jesus’ birth for granted.