They were a youngish couple and t’was the night before Christmas. All was well and although it had been a busy few weeks – the travelling was now over. What with the baby due within the next few weeks – everyone was tired. They had finally got to their home town and had settled down for the night.
It was at about nine o’clock that Christmas eve when the baby started to make his presence felt. By half-past eleven they were sure the baby was on it’s way and started to make arrangements for the unexpectedly early arrival.
After several exhausting hours later, they finally held the young baby boy in their arms – tired but content. Christmas had come and they had the gift of a new life as a present.
That baby will be two this coming December 25th, and as you will have gathered by now is to quote Monty Python ‘NOT the Messiah’ neither though, is he a ‘very naughty boy’.
My son, was born on Christmas day, as in fact many children are. The fact that it was my last Christmas while I was at ‘vicar factory’ had meant that like Mary and Joseph, Kat and I and the other children had made the trip ‘home’ to relatives in our home town and were not in the ideal situation for the early arrival of a child. Fortunately we had taken as precaution the baby seat for the car and a hospital bag – but we had no crib for a bed, no nappies, no baby clothes – not even a blanket waiting for us when we discharged from hospital on Christmas afternoon.
Unlike Mary and Joseph we had the love and support of our former Church around us – and as my mother-in-law mobilised the community that Christmas morning – blankets, cots, nappies – the whole lot poured into the house to help us get through the first few days when we couldn’t get to the shops.
For Mary and Joseph it was a very different story. They had no bed or cot, they had to swaddle the baby in the garments they had, they had to lay the child in a makeshift cot made from the animal feeder – it was an inauspicious start to a life that was destined to change the whole course of human history.
Jesus’ birth in this lowly manner was no accident. God’s plan through His son was to challenge all the pre-conceived ideas of the leaders and priests. A king born in a stable with out ceremony to a teenage girl with no-one but a few lowly, dirty shepherds to witness his arrival.
As I write this The Prince of Wales is celebrating his 60th birthday, one day he will be King. I wonder how we would think of him if he had been born in circumstances like those that Jesus arrived in?
But that was the point, the Son of God needed no fanfare, no faint praise from official noteworthies and leaders. Jesus came to bring you and me, ordinary folk closer to God. If he had been born in a palace to a king we would have had nothing in common with him.
Jesus’ arrival was to change everything. His birth heralded a new era in God’s plan for humankind. No longer would God be distant. It became possible for us to have a personal relationship with God because when he died and rose again, Jesus took on himself all those things that we do that would get in the way of our relationship with a holy God.
This Christmas are you prepared to open the gift God gave you through Jesus?
This article first appeared in the Christ Church Parish Magazine December 2008.