For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 RSV

I’m a great fan of “The Chosen;” you know that. This series’ wonderful depiction of Jesus as a real person—someone who laughs and cries and jokes and is weary and, above all, gets us—has captured my heart and lifted my faith as no other depiction ever has. So when I found out they were doing a Christmas show, I ran to the computer to buy a ticket.

It did not disappoint. But there was a moment that took my breath away.

Mary and Joseph walk into the famous stable—he with his arms loaded with blankets and cloths, she waddling slowly, bent in pain. He sets his burden down and begins to make ready a space. No bed, not even a pile of straw. He picks up a shovel and begins to clean manure off the stable floor.

I shuddered—as, I would guess, every mother watching did. I was born a city girl, but I’ve lived here forty years. I’ve owned horses. I’ve shoveled my share of stalls, as you no doubt have, too. We know how impossible it is to get a barn hospital-clean, how the stench and the dirt remain in the walls and the floor. To lie down in such a filthy place and give birth–! We recoil in horror. Yet that is how it happened, how God chose to come to this world.

“…though he was God,” writes Paul, “(he) did not demand and cling to his rights as God, but laid aside his mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men.” (Philippians 2:6,7)

King of kings, Lord of lords. Creator of a universe so vast and mysterious we can’t wrap our human minds around it. But He wanted no barriers between us and Him. He wanted to understand us so completely that he became one of us. Completely.

Why? Out of love so pure we can hardly believe it.

“The wonder of Christmas,” says one of the actors, “is not that I believe in God but that He believes in me.”

Selah. Pause and think about that.

God believes in us so much He was willing to accept human life in all its ugliness, limitations and pain—to lead us from darkness to light, to rescue us from our captivity to evil, to give us glorious life with Him. Forever.

Christmas is our celebration of His unconditional, incredible love. How can we be any less than joyful?

FATHER GOD: Your love is amazing. We bow in wonder. Amen.

To be published in “Bozeman Daily Chronicle,” December 12, 2021.