Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. I can just imagine the shock and horror of some of my friends as they read the title of this blog. They’ll already be mentally stoking the fire to burn the heretic and metaphorically ready to grab me and drag me on to the blazing flames! So I guess I better get round to explaining myself before they turn up at my door with their bibles in their righteous hands.
I DO believe in the virgin conception. I do believe that my Lord Jesus had no earthly father. That’s amazing, wonderful and something that should bring forth praise in each of us. Praise God. But, the birth itself? Look again, there was nothing miraculous about the birth. Nothing special. In fact, quite the opposite …
Despite the fact we celebrate Christmas every year, people seem determined to miss the point of it. Determined to close their minds to the awesomeness of what we celebrate on December 25th each year. That our God, our creator King, became man!
The more time I spend around Christians the more convinced I am that they just have not got this. I remember hearing Jeff Lucas explain that he once got into trouble for suggesting that Jesus occasionally went to the toilet! Of course he went to the toilet. What do you think he did? Pray it away? Jesus was a man and as such he did all the normal things us humans do. He ate his food, bumped his head, stubbed his toe and farted. He had to learn to walk, to focus his eyes, to run without falling over and cutting his knee. He was, in short, human! Never is the refusal to accept this more obvious than at Christmas.
Let’s, for example, take a quick look at this, what I think you’ll agree is, a fairly normal Christmas card nativity scene:
Where to I start?! How about with Mary? She’s just given birth and yet there’s no sign of this anywhere. Apparently the blood soaked straw and discarded placenta are in the stable extension round the back! Mary’s also, despite her exhaustion, managed to have a wash, change her clothes and put her make-up on. But let’s imagine she has had time. How do you explain the animals? Those animals seem very well-behaved don’t they? And apparently, toilet trained. As I can’t see any mess on the stable floor. And what, if you don’t mind me asking, is that strange yellow glow emanating from Jesus? Did he have a light bulb for a face? Some nativity scenes even go so far as to depict the newly born Jesus as looking about 4 (which makes Mary’s bright smiles even more miraculous!), practically thanking the shepherds and wise men for coming to his birthday party!
This is true for all sorts of things at Christmas. How about this well-known verse?
The cattle are lowing, The baby awakes, But little Lord Jesus, No crying He makes.
WHAT?! Really! Why? Why doesn’t Jesus cry? Do you think that a baby crying when it wakes up is sinful? My lovely daughter hardly slept last night and cried lots. This is very annoying, incredibly tiring and unbelievably brain numbing. But it is not sinful! Jesus was human. Not God is a human costume. He didn’t walk a foot above the ground. He wasn’t immune from pain or tiredness. He was human.
This is the miracle of Christmas. Our creator God, the God who wove the universe together and lit up the stars, shrunk himself down. Smaller and smaller and smaller into a tiny little embryo. An embryo who became a helpless little baby who had to rely upon two scared teenage parents for food, warmth and love. Our God, the one in whose image we are made, came to us.
But more than that. He didn’t come into a lovely, warm hospital, or expensive house. He came to a dirty, smelly, uncomfortable stable. As the video below makes clear (don’t worry it’s only short).
Our God didn’t just come to us, he came to us in all our mess, all our crap. People often say that while you’re rushing about buying presents and roasting turkeys try to pause to remember the true meaning of Christmas. And there’s truth in that. But the meaning of Christmas is precisely that our God came to us in all that mess. In all the noise and stress of life.
I believe in a God who has come to us. Not in some domesticated, serene way, but in a real, gritty, earthly way. So as we start the frantic run up to Christmas, remember God is in it with you. God knows what it is like to be stressed. He knows what it is to have too much to do and to dread a day arriving. Our God came to us. He entered into the crap of this world. This is the miracle of Christmas.
You see the only miraculous thing about the birth of our God is that it was not miraculous at all!