By Justin Kinsley, Student Ministry Pastor
Picture perfectly trimmed trees, lined with ornaments that reflect the flickering glow of a warm fireplace. Neatly wrapped presents sit piled on the living room floor, while a ham bakes in the oven. Snowmen stand stoically in the front yard, while their scarves blow in the chilling winter breeze.
While these images may pervade our memories of past Christmases, many times the holidays are not what we remember them as. In actuality, the holidays can be filled with failed expectations, financial worries, and stress eating.
Just like our Christmas memories can be distorted, the way we view Christ’s birth can be also. Most picture the coming of our Lord through the lens of our nativity scenes. Neatly groomed animals lie peacefully in a quaint stable, while soft hay cushions the manger where our Lord lies radiating with the light of God into the dark night. While this image shows the magnificent coming of our Lord into our realm, the real birth event would have looked nothing like our nativity scenes. Mary shivers from extreme cold and Joseph readjusts his hurting knees from the jagged rock beneath him, as our Savior emerges into a smelly shack. The truth is that the Incarnate Christ came to live with us in a dirty, rugged, and putrid world. While our nativity scenes might not authentically display the original event, knowing that Christ came into such a dirty world intensifies this event even more. Our Savior came to live with us, dirt and all.
So why did Christ allow himself to be born to an unwed mother in a stable meant for animals to sleep, and lay in in a manager instead of a bed? While Christ deserved the best the world could offer, He came to serve, not be served. Mark puts it this way, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (10:45). Our savior came into a world that was not worthy of His presence so that he might bring redemption and salvation. So while the picture might not look perfect from the outside, there could never be a story more perfect.