The story of the baby born in a manger is one that annually inspires celebration, giving and excess. One wonders why the simple story of a homeless peasant family has evolved into the complex celebration we call Christmas.
The characters of the story reveal some of the eternal attraction that draws us into the drama. Fathers are drawn to Joseph, who tries to protect his pregnant wife. He desperately searches to find somewhere they can rest. He sees the anxiousness on his wife’s face, he knows by the lines of worry that the time for the child to be born is soon. Place after place has no room for them, but at last they have a stable, a place to rest. Mary gives birth, Joseph looks on , proud; but then come the travellers with warnings. So as with all fathers, the desire to protect urges Joseph to flee with Mary and baby to Egypt.
The Shepherds come first. They help us share in the hope of the birth of the baby. Shepherds would have struggled to pay the bills, struggled to bring up their families, money would have been tight, many of them were regarded as “undesirables“. The Shepherd life was a difficult one. It is one that many can relate to in these time of “credit crunch”. The shepherd represent the hope we all feel and want to feel at the birth of the child.
The wise men arrive, probably when the baby is now a toddler, they seek understanding. They are rich, intelligent but that is not enough, they seek to understand what is going on! Their wealth is not enough. They know there is more than just our earthly existence.
Mothers relate to Mary, every mother will know the worry of a Childs birth and then imagine that you are not at home, you are in a strange place and you cannot find anywhere to sleep for the night. Your baby is due and you want the best for your child. You are frightened about child birth, it is your first, and neither your mother nor any of the women in your family are close to you. You are worried and your deliver your baby in a manger in a stable. Mary remembers the promises that the angel Gabriel gave nine months ago, the hope and expectation that Mary has, but who visits firsts? Kings, princes, rules, no lowly shepherds.
So most have someone to relate to in the Christmas story, Fathers, Mothers, the rich the poor, the hopeful those seeking more about life and perhaps God. All big surveys suggest a large proportion of the population believe in God. But how do we get to know God? Well the answers is the person at the centre of the Christmas story, the baby. Not just any baby but the baby Jesus, God’s own son. But why? But why would God come into the world as a lowly child in a peasant family? Because God knew we all struggle to know God, he sent his son to live and breath with us, to feel the trial and tribulations with us, to know what it is to be tempted, betrayed, scorned, wrongly accused, loved.
However we are drawn to the Christmas story, the person we need to be drawn to more than anything is the baby, Jesus. So if you want to know God, get to know his son first, after all God’s son said “Believe in God, believe in me also”.