One day, long ago, in a town, a long, long way away – a child was born. Not in a pristine hospital and not with a mid-wife. A young woman and her husband, away from kith and kin, in a place where usually only animals were kept – to them a child was born.
On rough, scratchy piles of hay new life entered this world. It wasn’t pleasant or easy. It was an event filled with danger, difficulties and other extraordinary happenings. They say a census was underway, further evidence of an abusive and cruel occupation by a foreign power.
At the time, the career of a shepherd was about the lowest of all occupations, fraught as it was with the danger of tending sheep at night, protecting them from thieves and wolves. Shepherds came to see what the angels told them. Magi, wise and respected people from foreign lands also heard of this birth and desired to see for themselves what had been told to them and to make an offering.
The lowliest and the topmost of all people came to see the babe in the hay: animals and angels; citizens and come-from-aways. All creation sings with joy at the birth of the child who is God incarnate, Emmanuel, God with us. And why not? This is important stuff. But the reason we know about all of it is not just because the Gospel writer chose to record it, but that they wanted us to know something very special about Jesus of Nazareth: his birth is important – then and NOW! All of the things we remember from pageants, scripture and Christmas Eve sermons is intended to impart a crucial piece of information: the birth of Jesus matters today too!
Jesus lived, died and rose again for us today, for the whole world today.