“You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most high.” Luke 1:31-33
Consider this abbreviated version of that first Christmas in the words of Phillip Yancey: “An angel appeared to some teenage girl who then got pregnant without ever having had sex and traveled on horseback to Bethlehem where she spent the night in a barn and had a baby who turned out to be the Saviour of the world.” How do we celebrate an event like that?
In order to make Christmas more meaningful, some like to feed the homeless which is a good thing to do, though I don’t actually see Jesus as being homeless or even poor. He slept in a barn because there was no room in the inn not because his parents had no money. By the time the Magi arrived, he was living in a house (Matthew 2:11).
Mary and Joseph only brought a pair of pigeons to the purification ceremony but their finances would have been strained. They had just married in difficult circumstances, they had to make an unexpected and slow trip to Bethlehem, and the temple charged exorbitant prices. It’s true that the family lived in an oppressed country with heavy taxes, but it also seems that Joseph owned his own carpentry business.
If we think of Jesus as “homeless” or “poor” it removes him from our circumstances. We take away from his incarnation and his identification with us when we try to make out that Jesus was different to us.
How do we celebrate Christmas? By celebrating the relationship we now have with Jesus and rejoicing that he was prepared to be just like us.