Shadows dance on the stable wall, leaping and receding with the flickering flame. The man, candle held high, draws his wife close. Together they gaze adoringly at the soft new face, the puzzled eyes blinking slowly, uncomprehendingly, at the first perception of light. Banished are the memories of the frantic, fruitless search; the desperate plea, “Even your stable will do.”; the hastily spread blanket to soften the straw; the contractions, the rush of water and blood; the first cry; trembling, unfamiliar masculine fingers tying the cord, severing the afterbirth, wrapping the child. For now, there is wonder. Wonder at the miracle of that first breath, at perfect little fingers and toes bending, straightening, trying out this new world.
Humanity at its most poignant, most vulnerable, most heart-warming.
Yet hardly earth-shattering. Not to the passer-by.
So much to overwhelm, with the census. So much to engage the crowded dusty streets for: Accommodation, provisions, registration. No time for a second glance at the new family. History is made at Caesar’s census booths, not in a stable.
Yet heaven holds its breath, angels gaze in awe, the scene reverberates through the cosmos and history tilts upward as He, who once hurled galaxies, lies helpless in a mother’s arms. The extraordinary wrapped in the ordinary.
How often God wraps the extraordinary in the ordinary:
The leader of God’s nation hidden in a stammering old refugee.
A king clothed as a shepherd boy.
The very Word of God enclosed in personal letters from prison.
Angels entertained as strangers. (Hebrews 13:2)
Creator of all He spoke to; of all that now shone upon him from the heavens; of all that nourished and preserved his family, packaged as a carpenter’s son.
And now, recreated beings in the wrapping of ordinary citizens; Creator’s children; God-bearing vessels; channels of His very Spirit mingling unnoticed with the ordinary. Yet extraordinary. (2 Cor 5:17, 1Cor 3:16)
God, give me eyes that look beyond the wrapping.
Beyond the cantankerous old woman to the bearer of Your word to me for today.
Beyond the brash young boy to Your sonnet, scripted exclusively at the dawn of time. (Eph. 2:10)
Beyond the criminal, the patient, the hungry beggar to an entrance to Your heart — treasures hiding in the world’s trash. (Matt. 25:37-40)
And beyond the stumbling, imperfect church to a glowing, resplendent Bride treasured and transformed by her majestic Groom of Glory. (Eph.5:25-27)