Our version of the story is far from reality. Mary and Joseph had traveled far, and if any of you have traveled during the last months of pregnancy, you know that's no fun. When they arrived, tired, dirty, hungry, there was no place for them. They ended up in a stable with animals. Not nice cardboard animals or cute children dressed up. Real animals, with all their animals noises and smells. The manger was a real feeding trough, not a beautiful, clean, cradle-shaped bed. Jesus' birth was not a clean, stage-worthy experience.
For those of us who know long-term illness, the above may prove a comfort. We, too, do not fit the nice portrayal of life shown us by healthy people who are not suffering, not limited. Our lives are more raw, more painful. We've got the dirt of life clinging to us.
That's okay. Jesus came for us just as much as He came for them. He came for the shepherds as much as for the wise men. And He even placed His royal birth in a place so low, so real, the most humble would feel at ease there.
This Christmas, as you may feel detached from the revelry and desserts and niceness of the celebration, know that Jesus would likely feel detached in that setting, too. For Jesus, Christmas was not about beautiful presents and indulging our appetites. It was about reaching God's hand down to the world to show us that this life is not all there is.
What comfort. Though the setting of Jesus' birth was less beautiful than it is often portrayed, it was still the setting of the world's greatest hope. In the same way, we too can step apart from much that feels like Christmas and celebrate the real hope of this season. The hope that there is more than this life, more than our pain, more than just celebrating new gifts and good food. Even more than precious time with family and friends.
Let's celebrate Jesus, the One who came to set us free, not perhaps from our momentary problems, but from the eternal problem of separation from God. The One who is with us this special day. The One who one day will take us home, to His home, where sickness and pain and death will be conquered forever.
There is much to celebrate. Merry Christmas!
Related Posts: Baby Eyes--Christmas Prose