“Do not be afraid. Listen, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”
I can remember growing up my dad would put his homemade nativity set the size of a full oven on display in front of our house. Lights and sounds were timed to come on during the night and lasted until the early morning. Children from our neighbourhood enjoyed this spectacle very much until one year they questioned why there wasn’t one. For those years, we didn’t have to go far to feel and experience Christmas. Not different to many households, the decorations marked a change of season and mood. Seeing many households getting into the spirit of Christmas makes it a real community celebration.
The nativity is a scene most of us are overly familiar with yet under appreciate its meaning in terms of God the Creator of the universe being born into an extremely humble setting. It reveals much of a God whom we celebrate the arrival of yearly. The God who is almighty and powerful yet humble and simple, a God who accommodates all people even the influential and respected Magi to the insignificant shepherds, a God who is perfect yet associate with the imperfect, sinners alike. God could have chosen any other kind of setting for Jesus to be born into yet chose the site where animals would gather to feed. An impoverished God is coming to bring true riches to this world: a spiritual confidence instead of being afraid, joy to alleviate sadness, for the whole people not just those that society considers important, a ruler and king who is approachable as a newborn compared to the emperors guarded by a fortress.
Christmas gives us the opportunity to appreciate all the beautiful decorations that line our neighbourhoods, shopping centres and churches. It is a time to also appreciate the beauty of God’s entry into the world in its mesmerising simplicity and humility.
By Fr Hoang Dinh