The last few years, it seems that each Christmas has come to me with its own unique understanding or insight into the heart of the Father in the sending of His Son. As I have reflected upon the Christmas Story this year, the contrast between the ordinary and the extraordinary has stood out to me in a powerful way.
There’s something special about the entirely unique joining with the perfectly common—the truly exceptional merging with the totally routine—especially as we see these juxtapositions in the familiarities of the Christmas story. Consider the extraordinary events leading up to the coming of Christ: angelic announcements in dreams and visions, with centuries old prophecies being fulfilled, all culminating in a virgin conceiving and giving birth to the King of kings and Lord of lords—the Only Begotten of God.
Then contrast those extraordinary events with the utterly ordinary elements of that same miraculous birth: a humble man and his unpretentious wife, alone in a strange town, far from home and family; a modest manger in an unassuming stable; simple swaddling cloths and dusty straw. Now consider the common shepherds who made up the Son of God’s first visitors and compare them to the Magi from the east who would follow after them.
In the Christmas Story, we see an extraordinary beginning to an extraordinary life that ended in a horrifying death but led to an extraordinary resurrection! While there was nothing ordinary at all about Jesus Himself: His birth, His life, His death or His resurrection, all of these aspects of His time on earth were marked by a frequent inter-mingling with the common elements, events and people of everyday life.
The birth of our savior brings with it an invitation for each of us to be reborn; for the ordinary to be transformed into the extraordinary; for the temporary to become eternal; for the mortal to take on immortality. It’s an invitation to exchange death for life, darkness for light, defeat for victory and shame for grace; to trade fear for faith, sorrow for joy, dread for expectation, and slavery for freedom.
Christmas means that He is here! He is with us! He is for us, and He is inviting us to live with Him and for Him. This Christmas may we accept the invitation, may we also integrate the ordinary and mundane with the extraordinary and miraculous.
Marc Sundstrom is Lead Pastor at Linwood Wesleyan Church.
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