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GUEST COLUMN: The first Christmas was not so cute and cuddly

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By Jon Rohr

Most people love Christmas.  They love the bows and the boxes, they love the getting and giving of gifts.  Some people love the idea of the “Christmas Spirit,” when joy and goodwill invade our hearts.  Then there are people who love those Christmas movies, you know the ones where hard hearts melt, the sad find happiness again, and little puppies find homes.

All those things have created the cute and cuddly Christmas we celebrate in America.  We have even made the Christmas story itself cute and cuddly.  The cute little baby born in a cute little stable surrounded by snow white sheep and wise men in royal robes.  On Christmas cards and in the movies Christmas is always soft and gentle, peaceful and perfect.

I doubt Joseph or Mary thought a stable was a perfect or peaceful birthing room.  Stables don’t always smell the best, hay isn’t always clean, and sheep only look snowy white if you are showing them in a 4H competition.  There is no Scrooge finding a heart of compassion on that first Christmas night.  There is a tyrant named Herod who sent soldiers to murder the little baby. 

The real story of Christmas is frightening, amazing, and awesome. Look at what happened to the shepherds. “An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.”  (Luke 2:9 NIV)  Do you see? They were terrified!  The angel’s first words to them were, “Do not be afraid.” (v. 10) And in that stable, in that manger, was born a child who is much more than any angel.

What happened on that night was a miracle like no other.  In that dirty stable, to a young couple who could not even beg a room, was born the Son of God Himself.  In Him was the full glory of Almighty God.  With sheep and cattle looking on the creator of the world laid aside His power and took on human flesh. God invaded our world and everything changed.

The Christmas story was not written for the Hallmark channel, it was written on the pages of history by God Himself.  The change we need in our hearts is not because of three fictional Christmas ghosts, it is because of the love of God made flesh in a stable in Bethlehem. 

Jesus invaded our world to change our hearts.  May He invade your heart this Christmas.