Yes, Jesus, most of us realize that no one alive today knows with absolute certainty the exact day you were born, though we understand that it was probably not in December. But please find joy that no one in our world garners as much attention on any one day as you do on this one. We are sorry if we miss the point in your coming, but we do know you've come and we want you to be born in a fresh way in our hearts today.
We remember what you did by coming to our world. Even though we cannot fully comprehend all that it means, we are awe-struck by this one thing: you came and did what you did for us. We believe in your amazing story and the amazing gift of your coming, but help our unbelief as we read the story of your birth again, with fresh eyes and open hearts!
The Word [God's Message] was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word. The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one. Everything was created through him; nothing — not one thing! — came into being without him. What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light [this Word, the one we call The Son] blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn't put it out (John 1:1-5 — these readings, all that follow, come from The Message).
Going through a long line of prophets, God has been addressing our ancestors in different ways for centuries. Recently he spoke to us directly through his Son. By his Son, God created the world in the beginning, and it will all belong to the Son at the end. This Son perfectly mirrors God, and is stamped with God's nature. He holds everything together by what he says — [God's Word speaking] powerful words (Hebrews 1:1-3)!
[This] Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish. ... No one has ever seen God, not so much as a glimpse. This one-of-a-kind God-Expression, [The Son,] who exists at the very heart of the Father, has made him plain as day (John 1:14; John 1:18).
He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges (Philippians 2:5-8).
[So the] birth of Jesus took place like this. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. Before they came to the marriage bed, Joseph discovered she was pregnant. (It was by the Holy Spirit, but he didn't know that.) Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.
While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God's angel spoke in the dream: "Joseph, son of David, don't hesitate to get married. Mary's pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God's Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus — 'God saves' — because he will save his people from their sins."
This would bring the prophet's embryonic sermon to full term: Watch for this — a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son; They will name him Emmanuel (Hebrew for "God is with us"). Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what God's angel commanded in the dream: He married Mary. But he did not consummate the marriage until she had the baby. He named the baby Jesus (Matthew 1:18-25).
About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for.
So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David's town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiance, who was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in [strips of cloth] and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.
There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."
At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises: Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us."
They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed. Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told (Luke 2:1-20)!
He was in the world, the world was there through him, and yet the world didn't even notice. He came to his own people, but they didn't want him. But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves. These are the God-begotten, not blood-begotten, not flesh-begotten, not sex-begotten (John 1:9-13).
Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death — and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion. Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth - even those long ago dead and buried — will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).