Imagine what it must have been like to stand in the doorway of a little inn in Bethlehem as hundreds flock back to the city of their ancestry. Crowded streets, smelly livestock, rooms overflowing, a pregnant young woman in labor on your porch. The innkeeper’s wife has to send them away, but her heart breaks a little that she can’t aid the young mother.
Or imagine what it must have been like standing on a hill, watching a city sleep while stars dance in the sky above. Sheep bleat on the hill as you stand watch, ready to protect them against any attack. All of sudden, light shatters the darkness and a being begins to speak telling you Messiah has come. Then more beings appear, giving glory to Yahweh, the God you’ve studied. The God of the Torah. And you can’t wait to go find this babe born on this night. You even abandon your flock for it. Because if this child is real, then he changes everything.
Imagine you are one of the magi, swaying on the back of a camel as you cross lands to see this babe. You’ve studied history and science. You’ve studied the night sky. And then this star appears, so different from anything you’ve seen. And something deep within you prompts you to chase that star because it could hold the answer to your lifetime of study to find purpose. Nothing can turn you away, not even a prideful king. And after searching, you find the child and you know his birth, his life changes your world.
Imagine your wife just had a child, a wife you haven’t known yet. A wife who claims this is Messiah. And you, you get to be his dad, the father of a child not your blood, but a child that will give his blood for you. The Messiah you’ve studied will be raised in your home. But all you can do is stare in awe at this new life, the Savior as a helpless babe.
Can you see it? Can you imagine?
I’ve been in church my whole life. Seriously, since the womb. Because of that, I struggle not to become jaded with the stories I’ve heard hundreds, if not thousands of times. The Easter story, the Christmas story. They become nostalgic children’s tales that we whip out on the holidays and share in dramatic fashion.
So last year, I decided to look at Christmas differently and imagine if I was one of those observers, what would Messiah’s birth have felt like? In an oppressed country, the news that the Messiah foretold in scripture had finally arrived really would have changed everything.
Then the wonder returned, the weight that Jesus, the King of kings came to live for me and then die for me. That story became fresh, and my heart reengaged.
What if we looked at Christmas through the eyes of a child? What if we examined the story through the other voices? And what if we remember the beauty of this love story woven throughout scripture? The story that makes us want to be writers.
If we are created in His image, then those of us who are writers bear that character quality of a creative God that relishes in the stories he writes for the ones he made. What if this Christmas, we remember the story that started it all? The story of a loving God who came as a tiny baby to die for the sins of the world.
This Christmas, I’m praying you rediscover the beauty of the story, and the wonder of it all. It truly changes everything.
It changes me and you.