I say "most" because I grew up in a tradition that prided itself in not celebrating the birth of Christ. The justification for this strange, "non-practice" had something to do with the idea that no one really knew when Jesus was born and that the early church didn't seem to pay much attention to the birth story. Neither idea made much sense to me from the time I was just a boy. Who cared about the exact date? And, it seemed to me that the early church cared enough about the event to include it in two of the gospel narratives.
But, this is not my point on this gray Christmas morning.
Reading the Gospel narratives about the birth of Jesus turns out to be an exciting, surprising, powerful, informative and formative experience every year.
Consider, for Christians this story's major themes include the following:
- poor, very young parents
- unlikely explanations as to why a baby is on the way
- a teenage pregnancy
- humility and humiliation
- faith and deep trust
- great danger and violence
- surprising events
- political intrigue
- divine intervention
- refugee status
- flight /migration
- understanding of God's work on behalf of the poor and oppressed
- housing need
- danger of infant mortality
- great Light
- miracles in the midst of "the ordinary"
- formation of new, very unique community
God drops in among the "lowly" to bring great, good news! In doing so God marks out the pathway for all who claim to follow this child.