For those of us who grew up celebrating the birth of Jesus, the Christmas story can become too familiar. It easily slips from a story of awe to simple facts of history. We rattle off these events, such as Mary gave birth to Jesus and the shepherds and wise men came to see him, with the same ease that we describe what we did last weekend.
When you stop to really consider it, the story of Christmas is anything but normal. It is absurd. It is full of biological impossibility, strained family dynamics, emotional turmoil, supernatural encounters, a failed assassination attempt, and people asked to do the craziest things.
This is an invitation to deeply experience the Christmas story.
How would you feel if God told you that you are bearing his Son? Feel the fear of telling your fiance and parents that you are pregnant, and Joseph is not the father. Sense the shame as the village whispers about you. Imagine the weight of knowing you are carrying God's son, hoping that you don't mess the whole thing up.
Put yourself in Joseph's shoes. How would you feel if your beloved comes to you and says she is pregnant and you know that the baby is not yours? Feel the betrayal, rejection, and heartbreak of Joseph, based on the wrong conclusions about Mary until God sends the angel who straightens things out.
How would you feel on a ordinary night at work taking care of your sheep if an angel of the Lord showed up to say, "Drop what you are doing and go"? Feel the fear of such a supernatural event, followed by the doubt that creeps in to say, "Did I make that up?" What about leaving the sheep which are your sole source of income? Sense the wonder, fear, uncertainty, and hope of the shepherds as they come to meet their Savior.
What if you were one of the servants in the entourage of the magi? You are following your master who is basing his journey on a star. It is not a short journey either. It was weeks, months, maybe even years before you arrive at your final destination. How long would you keep walking to a place you don't know to met a person no one else seems to know about with only a star as a guide?
Then as the story continues, when is the last time you had a dream that you woke up from and knew that you, your wife, and child were to leave immediately to live in a foreign country? What was that discussion like? Would you leave friends and family behind based solely on a dream your spouse had to go to Egypt?
The story is full of one crazy event after another. Beyond recording the details of Jesus' birth, the Christmas story reveals to us the otherness of God and how he longs to partner with big-spirited people to do the impossible. His reality is so much greater than ours. While we are thinking about getting married and settling down with a family in our hometown, he is planning to partner with us to fulfill his plan for the world.
The joy of this season is that with each twist and turn in the story God finds people who choose to live from their spirit and follow when they are challenged to believe what they have not seen and do what they have never done before. That is the adventure he is calling each of us to live.
This Christmas marvel at the outrageous and awesome lengths to which God the Father will go to give you the perfect gift.
Give him the gift of the same reckless abandon of the shepherds and the magi to pursue and follow your King Jesus.
May your spirit be so large and in tune with the Holy Spirit that when God shows up in the middle of your ordinary day with an extraordinary plan, you are ready to follow him regardless of how absurd it might sound.
And for 2013 open your heart to God-size dreams. Wait expectantly for God-size visions, and don't be surprised as he does exceedingly abundantly more than you can ask or imagine.
© 2010 Elizabeth Gunter Wallace