Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas 2016

The Christmas story will be read from pulpits today, performed on stages and screen, broadcast across the airwaves and read in quiet studies. It is only part of the story of Jesus, but it is the part that tells us how He came among us, and that makes it inexhaustibly fascinating and profound. It is a story about Who He is, and why He came, and how. I think I am safe in saying it is the best-known story in human history.

But the cast of characters is really pretty small! That’s one of the surprising things about this story: it is completely particular. We don’t tell the story of humanity receiving Jesus; we tell the story of two particular Jews - Joseph and Mary - receiving Jesus. We don’t tell the story of how whole civilizations have found Jesus; we tell the story of a few particular Shepherds who were nearby. We don’t talk about the Gentile nations coming to faith in the Jewish Messiah; we talk about just three particular wise men from the East. So in one sense, this is the biggest and grandest story ever told. But in another sense, everything about it is small. Not the halls of power and empire, but a stable behind a small-town inn. Not the remarkable historical figures and emperors, but the most ordinary shepherds and such. And that fits: because this is, after all, the story of how the Eternal Creator God, whom the universe could not contain, becomes small.
Giotto, Nativity