Did you know that Jesus was born in a beautifully quiet, warm barn, in Northern Europe somewhere? I didn’t. But I could swear that this is precisely how we think about our Lord’s birth.
You see, when we enjoy our “Hallmark-Christmas“, everything is calm, warm and peaceful in the stable where Jesus was born.
“Away in a manger, no crib for a bed. The little Lord Jesus lays down his sweet head.”
No mention of the pain that Mary was surely still enduring after the birth, and no mention of the blood our baby Saviour was covered in when he was born.
“The cattle are lowing, the poor baby awakes. But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.”
No mention that the goats smell really terrible, and probably are bleating and breaking wind. No mention of cow dung. No mention of rodents which might have scurried around under the hay and straw on the floor of the stable.
“Silent Night, Holy Night; All is calm, all is bright! ‘Round yon’ virgin, mother and child; Holy infant so tender and mild.”
No mention of Jesus’ birth being an illegitimate one to a teenage girl. No mention of his adoptive father, who was likely feeling confused and scared. Imagine how mum felt. All is calm, all is bright. Yeah right.
Lets be honest; some of our Christmas carols don’t quite do the whole event justice. Don’t get me wrong – I actually really enjoy carols, especially when they’re sung like this, or like this. I think that some carols are some of the best Christian songs getting about. I do also think that we Christians have followed the rest of the world into the Hallmark world of blonde Swedish baby Jesus, lying peacefully amongst doe-eyed cattle and sheep (and sometimes reindeer!), being cradled by a perfectly calm and clean Mary and Joseph. The reality would have been quite different. The measure of the Saviour’s love can be partially seen in the humble beginnings of his incarnation. What a God, who would make himself a bloodied baby, born in a gritty Middle-Eastern stable!
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6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.