The skeptic in me gets really hung up on the Christmas story but maybe that’s the point. Maybe it’s supposed to draw us in to take another look, to consider a different perspective. Maybe it’s the story about how God entered into the world and gained a new perspective.
Throughout the accounts of Jesus’s ministry, we are told that he had compassion on the people he encountered. For most of us, it takes entering into relationships with people who are different from us to understand their stories and have empathy.
Maybe that’s what Christmas is all about.
As humans, our preference, our natural inclination, is to segregate ourselves; we believe this will keep us safe from whatever threat we perceive another person or group might bring. It is only in listening to their stories that we are changed, that we gain a new perspective.
That’s what Jesus did.
That’s what we’re supposed to do.
We often hear that we’re called to welcome the stranger, but I think we tend to interpret that as someone who is like us but who we don’t know yet. No. I think we’re meant to welcome the one who seems strange to us, the one who is odd, different. Whomever we have built walls and created policies to keep out is the one Jesus tells us to welcome. The biggest threat most of them are to us is that they might break our hearts. They might stir compassion and empathy within us. They might change our perspectives and our minds and lead us to rethink everything we believe. They might bring us to our knees to beg for God’s mercy as we finally understand what repentance really means.
Did angels appear to shepherds when Jesus was born? I don’t know.
Was Mary a virgin? I don’t know.
Was Jesus born in Bethlehem? I don’t know.
I do know that it’s a beautiful story that tells me that God chose to enter the human realm to live with humanity and embrace the messiness of life. It tells me that God chose to learn from the struggles and pain of human existence. It tells me that the thing God learned was empathy.
It makes me wonder if the experience of being human changed God’s perspective on humanity.
It makes me wonder if that’s what Christmas is all about.
Read Luke 1 – 2
- Has your perspective been changed because someone you were in relationship with was different from you?
- Has your perspective on God changed because of your relationship with other humans?