All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:Jesus' birth is announced to Mary by the mystical appearance of an angel. Scholars seek him out because of the appearance of a celestial phenomenon previously unseen. Out in the fields, shepherds are roused by a host of angels singing the glad news.
‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’, which means, ‘God is with us.’ (See Matthew 1:18-25)
But Jesus' birth is in raw circumstances. In a bed of uncovered straw. Out behind the inn. Just his mother and father, and the barnyard animals. Not only in our world, but in a place most of us would consider lowly, unworthy. Yet this is what God plans. I think that, if it were happening today, Jesus' birth would take place in the alley behind the bustling pub, between the dumpsters. Or on a grate. Or in a homeless encampment or refugee camp.
In Jesus, God is with us, in a way we cannot completely understand. God is birthed in the world vulnerable, dependent on imperfect humans, waiting on the unfolding of years to be seen. God could have come to us in a miraculous appearance, leaving no question that he was in charge. Yet he chose to come, in Christ, virtually unnoticed by the world, and to live with us in the joys and trials of everyday life, so that he could point us to the new kingdom and life God offers.
God is with us. No hoop jumping or ladder climbing required. We don't have to get ourselves righteous, or even notice what God is doing, for him to be with us here and now. He lives with us, so that we can be his presence for those who live around us.
How is God with you today? How do you want God to be with you?
What difference does it make to you that God is not "up there" waiting for you to climb to him, but right next to you reaching out his hands to you?