For all of the nostalgia around Christmas for Christians, the story is really quite plain. Sure there were angels that appeared to some shepherds in a nearby field – they sang and then were gone! As for the birth of the King of Kings – a shepherds cave for a birthing space. Jesus ‘cradle’ was most likely a stony hollowed out feeding trough for animals. The Hebrew atmosphere of Jesus world at the time of his birth was very humble. A song that I love about Mary and Jesus birth is a song by Pierce Pettis called, Miriam. There is a great video on youtube called The Nativity, Pierce Pettis, Miriam. One line in the song says, “No banners were unfurled, when God stepped into the world.” Ain’t that the truth.
The story of Jesus birth is a tale of two Kings: Herod ‘the Great’ and Jesus. They couldn’t be more different. Herod was called the ‘King of the Jews’ and ruled the region ruthlessly and with fearful power. How unlike the rule that Jesus would bring. How ironic that Herod had many palaces and fortresses and yet Joseph and Mary couldn’t even find room at the local Inn of Bethlehem. How ironic that Jesus is born in the shadow of Herod’s man-made mountain fortress called the Herodian. So different from a shepherds cave in the fields. So close yet living world’s apart.
Christmas is a story of something new coming into the world. A new Kingdom is coming into being. And there is a new King in town. How ironic that in a few short years Herod is buried near the place that Jesus is born. What’s left of Herod’s greatness can be seen yet today in its ruins. Yet the Kingdom of God continues to grow.
See you on Christmas Eve for Worship of the newborn King: 4:30pm. Be on time for this one as we will retell and relive the Christmas Story together.
Peace and Good Will to you in the name of Jesus, the newborn King!