I think I’ve heard the Christmas story too many times. Or rather, I’ve listened without really hearing more often than not. But when I really take in the words and ponder and believe, I am awed. Because the first Christmas was anything but ordinary.
Last week, I taught a lesson on Las Posadas, a Mexican holiday during the days leading up to Christmas, in the Spanish class that I help out in. I was amazed when I first researched the assigned lesson and found that it was all about Jesus and the story from so long ago. Carefully, I crafted a lesson that would accurately represent both the holiday and my God, would fit inside of public school regulations and align with what I believe. While I did so, I realized the true magnificence of the story I have heard so many times.
An angel appeared to a young woman and brought to her God’s word. The woman, who was a virgin then conceived a child. Upon a vision, her fiance risked his reputation and married her. Together they followed the census decree and traveled for miles on a donkey’s bony back while she was pregnant and near delivery. There were no rooms in any of the inns so the child was born in a stable. Angels sang in the fields and brought shepherds to come and see. Most importantly, the child was not just a child but He was also God.
That is no ordinary story.
Being a Christian your whole life is a wonderful gift, but sometimes I think it means that we forget that it’s a gift with a thousand layers. Being a Christian is not just about one time in our lives, reading the Bible once, or going to church and singing about God on Christmas Eve. No, it is far more than that. It is not an ordinary present by any means.
When I spoke in Spanish class, I tried to give this gift. I struggled with it in the weeks leading up to the lesson. I wondered how I could offer a package that had been rejected so many times. In the end, I just came to class, a nativity in hand, my information typed out, and the God I love and story I know in my head and heart.
I don’t know if anyone in my class decided to take that gift or will come to receive it one day. I can only hope and pray. But I know that I am going to choose that gift today and tomorrow, just like I did yesterday. It is not an ordinary story in any way at all and most will not believe it. I know the truth though. In fact, I believe that the utter extraordinary nature of the story is what gives me life. Yes, Jesus was born, He saved me, and God is real. It is the best Christmas gift ever and I am going to unwrap it right now.