While the Incarnation is indeed miraculous, it is also makes stunning use of the obscure and ordinary. Think of the major characters of the story– Mary, unwed mother-to-be, the carpenter Joseph, shepherds in a field, an overbooked yet generous innkeeper, a set of farm animals, an out of the way country in 1st the first century. If you stop to think about it, doesn’t it seem that God was going to great lengths to do this in obscurity with ordinary people and in very ordinary places?
He could have miraculously appeared in the temple at Jerusalem. That would have made a lot of sense. He could have marched into Israel with a company of angels. His arrival could have been marked by kings and Temple leaders. But it wasn’t. In fact one of the greatest characteristics of the incarnation is its obscurity. If it weren’t for the stable owner there would have been no place to lay him. If there had not been any shepherds there would have been no one to welcome him.
This message given in such ordinary ways should give us great hope. Why? Because the ordinary is where most of us live our lives. We live in the midst of commutes and carpools, doctors visits and home repairs. We juggle family and work, shopping and bills. We drink coffee to pick us up and Nyquil to put us down. We wipe noses and cut grass, smile and cry and mourn and it is all so very ordinary. The message of the manger, the message of Christmas is that the ordinary is where God wants to show up. He could have gone anywhere, at anytime, but he chose an ordinary place, among ordinary people, in a very ordinary time. They were forced to go to the stable because there was no room in the inn. God comes to the ordinary, including the ol’ ordinary you and me, when we make room and allow him in.
Let this Christmas mark a turn or a renewal in your own life. Of all the people who will offer you gifts, don’t neglect your Heavenly Father’s gift. And be sure and marvel a new that You and me, ordinary people are recipients of God’s absurd love and are participants in the drama of God’s glory. Merry Christmas.