Happy Birthday Jesus!
It’s Christmas Day.
Is it Christmas Day in Heaven? I suppose probably not – it seems likely to me that up there you all know exactly when Jesus was born and we only guess, or celebrate it now because we bagged a pagan festival or something. I know that many non-believers point out that your Son probably wasn’t born on 25 December, more like February or something? So do you look down indulgently on our Christmas trees and gifts and carols and the like and marvel at how far off we are from the way it was?
How wonderful to have all the answers.
Or maybe you do join in the celebrations just because we on earth who love you are celebrating. We have trees with beautiful lights, we have presents, we have a feast and pull crackers and we raise a glass. Or three. Some of us are going to church today to wish you a happy birthday properly and to say thank you for the amazing thing that you did. To give up all that you had up there in Heaven to come and join in the mess and chaos down here for a while. And for what? Look what we did to you… you were born to die. But that’s not the part of the story we’re concerned with today.
Today we look inside the stable in Bethlehem many years ago and we marvel at the tiny baby born humbly among livestock to a poor young girl and her bewildered fiancé. A tiny newborn baby who was God and man at the same time. Born the usual way but fathered by the Holy Spirit. Destined to grow up in a small town, learn a trade, live a relatively short life in comparative obscurity but to make an impact on the world that has not been seen before or since. One small baby who came into the world without fanfare or drumroll, his destiny to save mankind. That’s quite a lot to lay on a newborn baby boy.
‘For unto us a child is born
to us a son is given
and the government will be on his shoulders.
He will be called
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’
Isaiah 9:6 NIV
You gave us your precious Son. Not because we deserved such a visitation but rather because we didn’t. He took the weight of the world on his shoulders to put things right between me and you. Mighty God – a tiny baby lying in a stable in a small inconsequential town in the middle of the night two thousand years ago.
God with us. God with Mary two thousand years ago. Shepherds saw angels and came to see the baby. Wise men traveled a long, long way, because they saw something in the sky that compelled them to come and see. Just as then, we can’t see anything special at all without you showing it to us. We can’t see your glory unless you reveal it to us. Just as people walked past Mary and Joseph’s stable on that first Christmas evening, concerned with other things, we so often walk past you, oblivious.
Lord thank you for the amazing generosity of that first Christmas gift. Thankyou that you understood what it would take to draw us back to yourself; that you had to come in person because there was no other way. Thankyou that you reached out to us with such warmth and understanding. You sent your beloved Son as a tiny, defenceless baby. You put a star in the sky as a sign that all Creation was coming together in one place. You spoke to humble shepherds because you were coming among the humble and lowly. You were born in poverty and yet you are the King of kings.
Today the sunrise was spectacular. It was pink and red and orange and yellow and all the colours in between. It was beautiful. I’m told that the sunset was exceptional too, though I missed it. I was helping assemble a basket for Elizabeth’s new baby doll which is her favourite present. It has a bottle and a dummy and a little outfit and it sucks its thumb and everything. She is displaying a little maternal streak that I never knew was there… but I digress.
The sunrise. Since it’s the middle of winter the crack of dawn wasn’t exactly at the crack of dawn, if you see what I mean, so we all assembled outside in the garden in various states of pyjama and dressing gown to watch the wonderful sky. It was a gift from you, Lord, and I didn’t miss it this time. The sunset too – you put on a show today; you did something special.
You know that question about celebrating in Heaven? I reckon you did, today, and the sheer extravagant exuberant beauty spilled over so that we could see it from down here.
There aren’t sufficient words to say thank you, Father God.
Welcome to the world, baby Jesus. I bet the party in Heaven is going well.