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What’s left out?

By Dan Etheridge

I was a Care Bear in a nativity play when I was a kid. Not just any Care Bear either. I was the big pink one. I didn’t have any lines, I just had to stand around the crib of baby Jesus with some shepherds, angels and lots of other personified toys. Yep, I went to a weird school.

Clever people say that when we read the Bible the stuff that is left out is sometimes just as interesting as the stuff that makes the final cut of the story, and in the case of the gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth, it is very interesting that Matthew and Luke didn’t mention that a Care Bare was part of the crowd on that first Christmas. Maybe they thought that a big talking pink bear that could shine a rainbow from its belly might distract their readers from the fact that God had just come to earth, born as a human.

…it can be hard to get through all the media and consumer related hype to remember that Christmas isn’t just some fluffy feel good concept, but a time to remember some pretty intense things.

Let’s face it, there are lots of things, besides Care Bears in the nativity scene, that can distract us from what Christmas is really all about; TV specials with the cast of some random soap opera all wearing Christmas jumpers and drinking eggnog; endless films with beautiful snow scenes and chiming bell soundtracks; lots of presents to buy, wrap, give and look forward to receiving… It’s all great, but it can be hard to get through all the media and consumer related hype to remember that Christmas isn’t just some fluffy feel good concept, but a time to remember some pretty intense things.

So, let’s get back to basics and peer through all the tinsel for a few seconds to see what all the fuss is about:

1) God became a human baby. That’s pretty amazing. God, who created all that we are, chose to limit himself, becoming one of us to communicate his love and desire to be in relationship with his creation. Theologians call it the incarnation… it’s the whole point behind Christmas, and even now, let alone back then, it’s an incredibly radical, insane and amazing thing to celebrate. Christmas is therefore about worship and responding to God’s amazing act of love.

2) Jesus was born to a poor family, in pretty harsh conditions in some random part of the world. He knows what it is to be homeless, to be vulnerable, poor or even outcast. His mum had him out of marriage and the King of the region wanted him killed. All this gives us a bit of a clue that Jesus would relate to, and do something to help, those people whom our society forget or leave out. Christmas is therefore about remembering and serving people who have less than us, making sure that people are not in need or left out.

3) People at the top (the three Kings/wise men) and bottom (the Shepherds) of society stopped to recognise who Jesus was… We know he was special and that he didn’t just come to help the clever or those in desperate need. He was born so that people of every social and cultural group could come to be in relationship with God. So, Christmas is therefore about communicating God’s love to all those around us and expressing the incredible message of the child who came to save the world.

So beyond all the Christmas lights, cheeky reindeer embroided jumpers and manic present buying, take a few minutes to remember what God put into the first Christmas and spend time responding to his incredible love for his creation.

The Author
Dan works part time with Open Doors, mainly sorting out the comms stuff for youth and students. In his other life he's a freelance writer and graphic designer who likes collecting records and sitting on beaches looking at waves.

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