“Now it came about in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all were proceeding to register for the census, everyone to his own city, and Joseph also went up from Galilee from or out of the city of Nazareth to Judea, the city of David, which is called Bethlehem because he was of the house and family of David in order to register, along with Mary who was engaged to him and was with child. And it came about that while they were there the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and she wrapped Him in cloths and laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Very familiar words. Behind these simple, words of narrative offered unmistakable meaning and significance there is the greatest event in the history of the world. But as I said, in yesterday’s post the story of Jesus is generally familiar to anybody who knows anything about Christianity and many people who know very little about Christianity. Sadly, the worldwide celebration of the birth of Christ, which is called Christmas, has become so cluttered and so confused with paganism and personal indulgences as to obscure the simple, clear reality of the birth of God in human form. The world celebrates the birth of Jesus in December for all the wrong reasons, for the expression of self-indulgence, materialism, partying, social events of all kinds. But largely misses the point, as we know. The real significance of the birth of God in human form is overlooked, treated trivially, overshadowed by everything else that’s going on.
And I suppose it’s a fair question to say: How can you take such a simple story and come up with such a complicated celebration? How do you get from the account of Luke and the account of Matthew, how do you get from those accounts to what we have today?