The problem with allowing the human race tell the story of a God of wonders, is how insistent humanity is in creeping into the interpretations and understandings of the larger than life stories describing this entirely other God. That despite our best efforts, at end of the day, God is still frustratingly God and humanity is still disappointingly human, and the stories we tell on God’s behalf, no matter how pure our motives and innocent our renderings, fall embarrassingly short of the complexity God embodies. And yet we try anyway. Even more unbelievably? He lets us.
Until one night, when God decided to write the script himself.
In a crowded town, with full hotels and busy streets, and chilly night air, the strangest thing happened. A baby was born. But not just any baby. A baby who was also a prince. A baby who was God. A baby whose life would show the world how good God actually was. And even though no one knew it yet, Mary knew and Joseph knew what that baby meant. That God was leaving nothing to chance. That God had finally spoken for himself. That God had not forgotten his people or abandoned his promise. That from this night forward, things would never be the same.
What was God like? This is what God was like.
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she 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.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
This is why Christmas is as meaningful as it is. Because of the sacred wrapped in ordinary. Because of the divine tucked into the mundane. Because isn’t it true that it’s easy to worship a God of miracles? Turn water into wine, heal the ostracizing disease of leprosy, raise the little girl back to life and you have our attention. A God of wonders is easy to follow.
But Christmas seems to beg the question, “What if the miracle is far less assuming than we think it is? What if the big stuff gets our attention, but isn’t where the meaning is? What if the point wasn’t to draw a crowd, to but to draw our attention to the heart of the God behind it? It may not have been showy. But it was a show to the people who paid close enough attention to see it. No, it wasn’t much. But it was it was enough. God was here. God was close.
Come and see what God has done. Then go and tell the world.