Many articles this time of year wrangle over the specific details surrounding Christ’s birth — Did it really take place in a stable? Was it really in winter? When did the Magi show up? But the core of the story is unmistakable, because it’s taken straight from the pages of the Gospels. And we see it depicted in every nativity scene.
Nativity scenes are so commonplace in December, we can easily forget how much they confront our self-absorbed age.
Kneeling beside the manger is a girl of no status or means who said “yes” to a Divine summons to be a part of the central event in all of history. When confronted with the profound and unexpected gift of being mother to Christ — a burden she would bear not just for nine months but for a lifetime — she accepted. Because of her obedience, our burdens are lifted.
Beside her stands a quiet man, remembered by the world as just and noble because he thought of the good of his betrothed over his own reputation. He gave of himself without reservation to raise the Son of God.
And of course, there’s the babe: Jesus Himself. His self-giving was by far the most profound. Not only did He empty Himself of the glory He had with His Father from eternity, He adopted the form of a servant, bore our infirmities, and ultimately shouldered our guilt on the cross.
I am better able to see the self-giving underpinnings in the nativity story because of a powerful article in the Yale Daily News from over a decade ago. Bryce Taylor, who was (I believe) just nineteen at the time, wrote about the Christmas story and the familiar picture of the manger scene as a critique of our me-first culture.
“Throughout the Christmas narrative,” he observes, “we find as a recurring motif the idea that adversity must be met with self-sacrifice … Mary must bear the shame and unbridled gossip that accompany premarital pregnancy; Joseph must decide either to part with Mary or raise a child who is not his own. Even the wise men, to quote a poem by T. S. Eliot … [must travel through] ‘the cities dirty and the towns unfriendly.’”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Stonestreet