For us Christmas day often turns out to be a long day. This year, it landed on a Sunday, which made it all the more glorious, but also even more complicated than usual –organization, worship, cooking and travel, cookies, ham, and egg nog, multiple houses and friends and gift exchanges, ending in a game night that lasted into the wee hours of this morning. Every last bit was worth it. It was good to revel together in the goodness of all that God has given to us. And now, with 11 days of Christmastide remaining, we settle in for a different kind of celebration: what was it all about?
Imagine being among the sheep that night. Suddenly the air above you is alive with an army of angels, and when you recover from your terror, they send you to find the baby. It wouldn’t take much asking around. Bethlehem is small, labor is loud, and the unwed and shunned teen mom forced to give birth in a barn would be the talk of the town. You round the corner, and there they are: a frustrated construction worker unable to provide better for his bride-to-be, an exhausted girl, and a baby: tiny, bloody, bundled in rags against the cold.
Improbable as it seems, that unremarkable sight is the root of many of your struggles and discontents today. That tiny child – the incarnation of God Himself – is the beginning of the end for the old world, and the seed of a new world that is even now being born – and birth is a messy, painful process. “Every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle, and the garments rolled in blood will be fuel for the fire, for unto us a child is born; unto us a Son is given.” This year, let’s reckon with the costs of Christmas.