Lately I’ve been pondering that Christmas is for outsiders. Not for people who “get it.” Not for the supposed chosen ones. Not for the elite or well-off. But Christmas is for the outcast, the rejects, and the strangers.
- Jesus’ actual birth was anything but precious. It was probably as far from sterile as you could get. The stable was filled with the stench of dirt and dung. No one welcomed Mary and Joseph with a warm, clean room. They were forgotten and overlooked. In fact, other than the parents, no other humans were present for the actual birth. Only the animals got to see it firsthand.
- Who got the news first? Shepherds on a hillside. Not leaders in the city. Back in the day, shepherding was a pretty crummy profession. Remember how David was written off for just being the “shepherd boy?” It’s almost like God is saying, “In case you didn’t get it the first time, the least likely and least desirable are the ones I prefer.” And the shepherds didn’t just get an inconspicuous memo about Jesus’ birth. They saw an army of angelic creatures, brilliantly lit, and audibly heard their songs of the glory and peace now displayed and available.
- Who were the first to offer reverence and adoration to Jesus? Magi. For most this is a cute detail of the Christmas narrative. In reality, the Magi were followers of Zoroaster known for their ability to read the stars, and manipulate the fate that the stars foretold. In other words, they were PhDs in the astrology that is condemned by most Evangelical Christians today. They were practitioners of magic, which is condemned in other parts of the Bible.
Jesus’ birth points to one thing that unifies the entire Bible – God wants to bless all people on earth. God was born in the flesh so that everyone (not just the insiders) would have a chance to experience the unconditional love of the Heavenly Father.