In the Christmas story, Jesus doesn’t exactly come on the scene with megaphoned announcers, lights blazing, and cheering crowds. He doesn’t storm in and take over. He slips in under the radar.
There are those who did show up on that night with mysterious power and glory — the angels. They had a light show, backup singers, and a galaxy as their amphitheater. A Broadway show or the most amazing concert have got nothing on them.
In Luke 2 it tells how “An angel appeared among the shepherds, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them… the angel was joined by a multitude of the heavenly host praising God.”
We as humans tend to put angels atop a pedestal as some glorious and supreme beings or, in some cases, atop our tinseled trees. There are TV shows about them, and some of the most beloved Christmas movies have an angel as a central figure. In every Christmas pageant performed at church, almost every kid wants to be chosen as the angel.
They're all right, I guess. Honestly, I don’t think angels are that big of a deal. Don’t get me wrong. They deserve due respect. They’re quite amazing and show up in crazy ways in the bible.
But think about it… Before the whole “In the beginning God created” thing, God was up there in heaven with the golden cobbled streets, lavish paradise, and beauty beyond comprehension. Who was he hanging out with?
Apparently, they weren’t keeping God very good company because he decided he wanted someone else to form a relationship with. That would be us. Turns out, we're the ones who are a big deal.
Blows. My. Mind.
Why would he create humankind when he had angels and the glory of heaven? The greater question for each of us is, “Why did he create me?”
Does God really want to hang out with me? Because way too often, I don’t want to hang out with me.
I can see why he created a lot of people in the bible. They were pillars of our faith and larger than life characters. Nations were built from their family trees. Hospitals are named after them, carved statues grace the halls of museums, and cathedrals bear their names.
But me? Most of the time, I feel pretty insignificant.
But guess what? Jesus can totally relate.
“Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:6-7
Jesus came into this world less dignified than most when he was born in a filthy animal stall. I grew up on a farm and it was my job to clean the animal stalls. Trust me, it’s not a cute setting like those displayed in most nativity scenes.
He wasn’t like the angels. He didn’t come on the scene with fanfare and fog machines. That’s not how Jesus enters our lives either. He enters our hearts like he entered Bethlehem…
“As for you, Bethlehem, seemingly insignificant… from you a king will emerge.” Micah 5:2
He was born in an insignificant little no name town in an insignificant way in what seemed an insignificant time. God is accustomed to making his presence known among the insignificant.
That includes you, me, and those the world often considers unimportant.
Sometimes I think we feel like Bethlehem — an insignificant little no name. So to combat those feelings we start filling our lives with other things. And before you know it, there really is no room at the inn, our hearts, for Jesus. We push him out, thinking all this other stuff will somehow satisfy and fill the emptiness we feel inside.
We’re good at saying things like “keep Christ in Christmas,” and we forget there are 364 other days in the year when we should be keeping Him just as much.
There’s a familiar carol called Oh Little Town of Bethlehem that many of us sing at Christmas Eve services. Sometimes songs become so familiar that we don’t even realize the words we’re singing. But I pray you’ll embrace the meaning in this verse in particular during this Christmas season…
O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today;
We hear the Christmas angels, the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide in us, our Lord Emmanuel.
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