[stextbox id=”info”]To celebrate Christmas, I will be sharing a very special blog series with you this week entitled, “The Unlikely Christmas Story”. Today is part one. Stay tuned Wednesday and Friday for parts two and three.[/stextbox]
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. – Luke 2:1
Did it ever occur to you that the greatest story ever told begins with taxes? In fact, the reason there are hundreds of thousands of manger-scene nativities on lawns all across our country today is because a government official raised taxes. Had he not raised taxes, Mary and Joseph would have never traveled to Bethlehem, and Jesus would have been born in a little house in Galilee, instead of a feed trough.
I don’t know about you, but if I had been writing the Christmas story, it would NOT have started with a tax spike. That’s not very romantic or touching. A greedy dictator slamming his gavel down and demanding taxes doesn’t exactly make for a great opening scene.
But maybe God wasn’t trying to be romantic or touching. Maybe He wanted us to know He can show up in the most ordinary and unspectacular circumstances of our lives.
We’re so immune to the Christmas story, we forget how crazy it is! Pretend for a moment that you’ve never heard the story, seen a nativity, or been in a Christmas play. All you know is that the God of the universe is going to show up in that universe on a tiny little blue dot called earth.
The angels were probably pumped about this new development. They were stretching their wings and polishing their trumpets for the grand entrance. How many angels would be needed? Would 147 billion of them surround the tiny little planet? Would millions of them escort God Almighty as He made His appearance in that tiny galaxy?
Not exactly. Imagine their surprise when God only sends for Gabriel and a small ensemble. The ensemble is sent to a couple of smelly sheep-keepers. Gabriel is sent to a poor woodworker and a fifteen year-old girl.
What in the world?! I mean, literally… what in the world?
Before Jesus is even conceived, He is already teaching us that God doesn’t do things the way we do. He doesn’t script stories like we would. He works in mysterious ways.
Joseph pulls tight on the donkey’s lead rope as he plunges into the mass of people. His poor little teenage wife is soaked in sweat. The many bumpy miles she’s traveled on the donkey’s back have left painful blisters. Her back is aching.
Not a single person on that crowded street had a clue that the God of the universe was in that little girl’s tummy.
How many of them brushed against Mary in the crowd? They were just inches away from the very God who created them. And they didn’t even know it.
Though they couldn’t see Him (and wouldn’t have recognized Him even if they could), God was already Emmanuel. He was already with them. Right there on the crowded street. Right there at tax time. Right there in the middle of their chaos.
When you think about it, the Christmas story is just so…normal. It was the opening act of the greatest performance to ever grace this theater of life. And yet, when the curtain dropped, the props were shockingly ordinary: unexpected pregnancy, taxes, travel, pain, childbirth, crowded city, noise, dirt.
Before He ever spoke a word, baby Jesus had already made a powerful statement. “I am with you in your pain. I’m with you in the middle of your taxes and finances. I’m with you when you’re tired and sore. I’m with you in the chaos. I like to show up when you least expect it, in the places you least expect, in ways you least expect.”
God is your Emanuel today. He is with you. Wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing. Right in the middle of all the chaos and normalcy of your life, He is with you. Amid deadlines and dentists, staplers and sticky-notes, garage sales and gas stations- He is with you.
Question: What is the craziest part of the Christmas story to you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.