There was nothing special about it. A child was born in a village. Since it was a time of census and of some social gathering, there was no place anywhere in the area for a lady who was in her advanced pregnancy. She had to deliver the child in a place meant for the cattle. Perhaps the ‘Bethlehem Gazette’, if it had existed, would have published that incident in a single line, “a male child, of Joseph and Mary, 18 inches long, 6.5 pounds, Nazareth.” It would have slipped the notice of all in course of time. But how did it become a history?
Marks of incidents in history
History marks certain incidents in red letters. There are some incidents simply massive. Events like closure of silk route through Constantinople in 1453, fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, the tragedy of 9/11 in 200, or the furious attack of Tsunami in 2004 are incidents that cannot be forgotten so easily. They are just incidents ‘once in lifetime’.
An incident ‘once in eternity’
But what made the birth of a child at Bethlehem so special? It was just a birth of a baby to an ordinary woman called Mary. A frail human baby was born like any other child. But it made some difference in history. It is an incident that happened only ‘once in eternity’!
The Christmas narrative gives everything that is necessary for a great story, to be politically intrigued, anticipatory, having a conflict theme, and a story filled with turning points and thrills! A simple and unadorned story!
The core of the story
The story is about a baby ‘wrapped in swaddles’. That is the core of the story. The ‘Eternal Word’ becomes a man. It does not happen every day. “Though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking on the nature of a servant, made in human likeness, and in appearance found as a man. He humbled himself by being obedient to death, death on the cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8) This is the uniqueness of the story!
Significance of Christmas
Exaltation of humility is the significance of Christmas. It is through the ‘baby wrapped in swaddles’ that insignificant things, places and persons become significant. It focuses on a poor couple, shepherds and the innkeeper. God uses ordinary people and places for ‘His Eternal Play’!
What is Christmas for us?
Christmas is a story of challenge for all of us. It has to be repeated in our daily lives. It is not an incident of eating cakes and exchanging presents. But Christmas is something more. It has to be lived. Col. James Edwin, former moon walker and astronaut, once said, “God walking on the earth is more important than man walking on the moon.” So also Christmas!