Christmas. My Lord and my Brother’s birthday. The day God came into the world wrapped in the flesh of a newborn babe.
He wasn’t born into that blissful scene you see on holiday cards. It was most probably in the dark little hillside stable of a one-room house built over a limestone cave, the cave functioning as the stable which one would enter at street level in the crowded town of Bethlehem. There was a manger filled with straw and that would be His first bed.
He wasn’t born on December 25th, though His family today celebrates His birth on that date; we can’t even pinpoint the exact year, although we know Herod the Great was king of Judea at the time, and even he had trouble telling exactly what year and day Jesus came into the world.
He wasn’t born into a time of peace. In fact, rumors of the birth of a new king as prophesied by the Scriptures and whom wise men from the east came seeking made Herod so nervous that he massacred all the little boys in Bethlehem under the age of two, not knowing exactly when it was that Jesus was born, and would have killed Jesus except that an angel warned Joseph in a dream and that night the little family left Bethlehem and Judea and fled to Egypt.
To this day His family is being hunted and killed in various places around the world, and faces persecution in various forms. But somehow, His family keeps growing.
The angels announced my Brother’s birth with great jubilation to shepherds in the field and a star led wise men in the East to come with gifts of gold, myrrh, and frankincense. But over His manger fell the shadow of the Cross upon which He would pay the price for the peace on earth – reconciliation to God our Father – that was born in the hearts of those who received a second birth, the peace that one day will cover the new heaven and new earth when He returns again.
For His family, His birth means the birth of a new life and one day a new creation.
That will be a different birthday, the promise of which it took Christmas – my Lord and my Brother’s birthday – to accomplish.