The day of his birth was ordinary and extraordinary. That is the way of Jesus Christ.
He was and is God, the eternal one, the creator and king of all that exists. He took on the nature and form of a human being (Philippians 2:5-8). The ordinary met the extraordinary.
There were a man and a woman with plans to be married, and all the usual shock and doubts when she was found to be expecting a child. An angel met both of them in dreams to explain that the child was conceived of God. The ordinary met the extraordinary.
There was a stable and a manger, and no doubt the usual pain and travail of childbirth, and an anxious Joseph standing by; and there were angels singing glory to God. The ordinary met the extraordinary.
There was a baby lying in straw, and despite the sentiment of “Away In a Manger,” I’m sure he cried (did the eternal Word not communicate?); yet there were visitors there<i>worshiping</i>: the lowly shepherds and the courtly Magi (Luke 2:16-20, Matthew 2:1-12). The ordinary met the extraordinary.
Christianity, perhaps more than any other religion, accepts and celebrates the ordinary. It speaks of no eternal absorption into the infinite impersonal; it does not, like so many, insist that spirit is good and matter or flesh is evil; it comes to us primarily as story rather than as writings on golden plates or dictation from Allah. The story, of course, is that of God at work in the world, the real, ordinary world we live in. But it is God’s extraordinary work that makes the story what it is. God even took our ordinary human failings and turned it into the most extraordinary success of all history: the redemption of sin and the conquering of death that Christ accomplished near the end of his ministry on earth.
We who are called to follow Christ are as ordinary as can be, and some of us (all of us at times) live “only in a human way” (1 Corinthians 3:1-4) but by God’s gift to us in Christ, we are partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4). The ordinary meets the extraordinary.
December 25 can look like just an ordinary day on ordinary calendars, but for those who have a heritage of real Christmas celebration, it is the least ordinary day of the year.
I wish you an extraordinarily merry Christmas!