I have been reflecting on the very unbelievable and boring story of Jesus’ birth at Bethlehem.
And in all honesty, with the right person reading I prefer to hear: “twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…”.
It just seems so much more exciting than an emperor calling a census and Joseph and the very pregnant Mary stumbling along a dusty road on a donkey.
I think part of the problem here has to do with the excitement of Santa Claus and Rudolph and flying through the sky and bringing gifts. On the other hand, Jesus was born in obscure circumstances. He is considered the greatest gift but the gifts He offers cannot be seen or opened or touched or enjoyed in the tangible way we prefer.
There is a particular magic and mystery that accompanies Christmas that puts it out of our realm.
Without faith that lures us into believing the “virgin birth”, Christianity is then a foolish belief system for foolish people imprisoning themselves with the need to believe something because we can never put our hands on what Christ offers – we can’t get the love, the peace, the joy, the hope or anything else we associate with Jesus’ coming.
Then there is the magic of then jolly fat man flying through the sky propelled by animals with no wings and designed to walk. And while hardly anyone pretends to be Jesus, millions of people across the world pretend to be Santa Claus; hiding gifts around the house and easing them under the Christmas tree when the recipient is asleep.
Does your house have a chimney?
You see, we romanticise the Christmas story, or should I say the story of Jesus’ birth and read it as something that happened “once upon a time in a land far, far away”.
Our interpretation is that Jesus came: Once in Royal David city, Long time ago in Bethlehem, It came upon a midnight clear. Jesus is past tense, he already happened.
But Santa Claus is present and future tense – coming down the chimney, leaning his ears to hear what the children want and he brings everything from front teeth to diamond rings.
We need to stop talking about the Christ and live the Christian life. As Christians we are called, not only at Christmas but all year long to translate the language of long ago into present tense by the lives we practise daily.
Have a Merry Christmas and let us celebrate with the living God of today and not the one of old. firstname.lastname@example.org