The incarnation is the second article in the series, The Life of Christ. To read the whole series click here.

I find the non-Christian perspective on Christmas to be rather refreshing: “Do you really believe an angel appeared to some teenage girl who then got pregnant without ever having had sex and travelled 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?”[1]

I find Christmas difficult. In my mind, there’s a disconnect between what we do at Christmas and what happened on that very first Christmas Day. Some like to feed the homeless and needy at Christmas. However, I don’t see Jesus as being homeless or particularly 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 wise men arrived, he was living in a house (Matthew 2:11).

Although Mary and Joseph only brought a pair of pigeons to the purification offering (Luke 2:22-24), several factors would have strained their finances. They had married in difficult circumstances, made an unexpected and slow trip to Bethlehem, and the temple charged exorbitant prices. The family indeed lived in an oppressed country with heavy taxes but it seems that Joseph owned his own carpentry business. Putting Jesus in the category of homeless or poor or another category different to ourselves may make us feel more comfortable. Yet, the incarnation is about Jesus identifying with us and imagining he is different distracts us from his purpose.

I read the account of a Jewish girl who described the Jewish Passover. She ate certain things and didn’t eat others as a way of remembering what happened on the first Passover. For years at Christmas, I ate turkey, Christmas pudding and fruit cake. I wondered why I ate things I didn’t like just because it was Christmas. Nevertheless, the incarnation encourages me to join in with non-Christian events so as not to appear aloof. It’s good to connect with family and friends around Christmas time. After all, Jesus joined in the various celebrations of his time (John 2:1-12).

Over the years I’ve endeavoured to make Christmas more relevant. When our children were young we would have a birthday party for Jesus with party pies, fairy bread and chocolate cake on Christmas Eve. Now that our children are older and tend to celebrate birthdays by going out for a meal it’s no longer as appropriate. So I find the tension between being a part of Christmas celebrations and finding them applicable to my faith continues. Yet the incarnation tells me Jesus knows how I feel.

[1] Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995), 30.