The sounds and smells are a rich treasure trove of memories. My childhood memories of Christmas. The sound of the homemade ginger wine being bottled as gifts for friends and neighbours. The turkey arriving direct from the farm with feathers to be plucked. The sight of the Christmas cake being cut and the memory of choosing an end piece with the most icing.
Then the Christmas Day excitement, an excitement which remains today, even though the circumstances have changed. The thrill is still there and the joy of being with family is special.
Yet this occasion has very unusual beginnings in a strange place called Bethlehem and an animals’ stable. There was an eclectic gathering of shepherds and strange men from the east. I imagine a terrified young lady in the pain of childbirth. A man who was to be the father of a child that wasn’t his.
In the middle of this confusing scene something wonderful was happening, a declaration of eternal love for all.
Undergirding this was the incredible truth that God took very unusual circumstances and people to make something very special come to pass. God does take the ordinary and make it special.
My prayer this Christmas is that in some of the most painful and difficult places people may find the light and hope of that first Christmas through the ordinary actions of ordinary people. May we also in our ordinary lives be channels for God’s extraordinary love and presence.