Contest Entry for Lighthouse Short Story Contest (#2229244)
|The birth of Jesus Christ has changed everything.
This is the most important fact of history and its most transforming event. It is our only real grounds for believing we have a future with God. We live in a broken world, a world oppressed by sin and tyrants, of the spirit and the flesh. Yet in this event, in the birth of a child in Bethlehem, 2000 years ago, we have reason to hope.
It is no accident that all history is measured in terms of the before this moment and after this moment. Our calendar revolves around the instance when eternity merged with history and God entered the world as man. In Jesus, God and Man can finally be reconciled and with them the world to God. Julianus Africanus later dated the birth narrative some 4 years later than it actually happened due to an ignorance of when Herod the Great died. But that does not change the message of the gospels, concerning the birth, or anything regarding the true importance of God's entry into history. Similarly the discussion of when Roman censuses took place in the client kingdom of Judea requires a great deal of speculation and wishful thinking to overthrow the narrative of the gospel account.
This was a moment that was anticipated by prophecy, by great signs in the heavens, a star that led the wise men to him, some time after the event. Jesus was anticipated by Isaiah (7:14) when he spoke of 'a virgin with child', as Emmanuel, who would be 'God with us'. Prophecies that were later reread centuries later by anti-Christian Jewish rabbis who changed the meaning of 'almah' to young woman rather than virgin in order to reduce the damage, from this passage, to their credibility, even though its definition was already clearly established in the translation of the Septuagint' some 200 years before Christ was born. He was to be a son of David, born in Bethlehem and a Jew from the tribe of Judah. While he was still in the womb, John the Baptist, in the womb of Elizabeth felt his presence and recognized him as the Messiah. The Messianic expectation and many prophecies were fulfilled in his birth.
This was a moment affirmed by angels, singing in the heavens, to poor shepherds (Luke 2) while they watched their flocks by night, by Simeon in the temple (Luke 2:25–35) who recognized the Messiah he had waited for all his life, by evil kings like Herod, who did what they could to wipe him out. There were no celebrities in the witness list for the Jesus premier. It was the ordinary and the marginalized who stood to benefit from Christ's birth and who were the first witnesses to it.
This was a moment affirmed by the turn in the tide, that has followed his birth, ever since. From twelve apostles a church grew to be the largest community on the planet today, larger than the largest nation or empires, including almost a third of the world's population. The church has never stopped growing since its birth with this child. Empires fell or converted to faith in him, as with Constantine, Emperor of Rome. Kings were made and broken on Christ's anvil. Despite plague, war, famine and persecution the church, formed in his name, has grown and prospered and countless ideologies and idols have been shattered against it. Slavery was abolished by Christians, who saw humanity in those they owned, and women got the vote and welfare systems were established for the poor, the ignorant, the sick and the old in Christ's name.
Christmas is a time of hope, set in the church calendar, at the darkest time of the year, for good reason. It displaces old pagan mythologies with a deeper and older truth about humanities journey back to God. That God watched us fall, but He never stopped loving us and in Christ he has given us a way to be reconciled to Himself and in the darkest of moments brings us Light and the prospect of a future with God.
Others may say that God loves us, without the need for Christ, but they fail to see the proof of love he offers, enduring the limits of our humanity in an imperfect world for our sake. Jesus is God's living love letter to us. The most intimate revelation that he cares, cares enough to live our lives with us and even die for us. All other gods are impostors, who use the words of love and intimacy but have not shown it and demonstrated it as has Christ. Their words are hollow, like that of a love letter from a person you have never met. If Christ had not be born and become one of us, in the flow of human history, then his priesthood for us would not exist, there would be no perfect and once for all sacrifice of atonement for our sins and no proof that God cared enough to save us. It is because Christ was with us and remains with us, by His Spirit, that I know that God cares for me personally. Furthermore if God had not cared enough to send Jesus then why should I care about Him. The world is full of sorrow and pain and to speak of God through our many trials would be hard, or even impossible, without the hope and proof Christ brings us, that God cares, that God loves us. That His love through Christ has changed everything.
Christmas is positioned inside the season of advent, in the church calendar. In this season we remember the child and wait for the man. We celebrate the humility in which God revealed Himself to us and we wait in anticipation for Christ's glorious return.
Prompt: The birth of Jesus Christ
Word Count: 979 words