24th December – Luke 2:1-10
When God came to earth as a baby it was simple, humdrum and lacking in fanfare. Mary gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. The story of the birth is matter-of-fact with much more attention to the circumstantial detail; the lack of room, the census and journey to Bethlehem. The angels who perhaps should have been mid-wives and celebrants weren’t there. The birth of God almost fades into obscurity.
The heavenly fanfare was elsewhere. In a field with some sheep. It is in this field that the words, “Saviour”, “Messiah”, and “Lord” are used. It is to shepherds that the significance of this birth is communicated and it is shepherds who witness the heavenly host praising God and pronouncing peace on Earth. Jesus’ meagre birth is somehow great. It is irresistible as the shepherds hurry to be witnesses. It is irrepressible as they spread the word of Jesus’ birth and praised God.
The Christmas story encompasses the pomp, the celebration, the bright shining lights, the carols, the gatherings and the worship which signify the birth of God’s Son himself. But it also embraces the run-of-the-mill, quiet, backstage birth of a tiny human baby. The story is infinite in its scope, but intimate at the same time. The arrival of God’s Son marks a moment of irreversible change in history, and also a moment of change in the lives of Mary and Joseph.
In Jesus’ birth, a baby’s eyes open on a world, cosmically transformed; and the magnificence of heaven touches earth with a tiny hand closing on his mother’s finger.
Father God, we thank you that you have given us the unimaginable gift of Jesus. Please help us to be like the shepherds – to hear and see you, and be changed by the experience; and help us to be like Mary and Joseph – faithful in the mundane and hopeful in the little things.