Dec 26, 2007

O Little Town of Bethlehem


"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." --Micah 5:2 (777-717 B.C.)

This is a story that has been told countless of times in various languages, modes, places, cultures and generations. There might be several versions of the story but the basic message has remained the same. If the biblical story were true, then, the first Christmas was indeed a pivotal event in the history of the human race. For Christians, it was a defining moment that heralded the greatest gift of all. Although the gift did not come in fancy wrappings, its value was more than the entire wealth of the world. The first Christmas was a moment when the divine was manifested in the flesh. The first Christmas was the beginning of a love story that had its fullest expression on Calvary.

Well, that is as far as the Christian doctrines are concerned. The story of Christmas is powerful not because of the details regarding the singing choir of angels or the visiting magi. The Christmas story is powerful because it touches the heart. What could be more touching than a story about the birth of the son of God in a very humble place? How many would have had expected that the messiah would be born in a manger? The Jews had anticipated that the messiah to be of royal descent. Being born in a lodging intended for domestic animals hardly described a royal birth. Nonetheless, for Christians, the baby that was born in that manger was more than a king. That baby was the savior of mankind and was God incarnate.

I might not believe in the historical validity of the Christmas story and I might not even believe that the event was of divine origin, but I am impressed by its basic message. The debate on whether the Christmas story was just a myth or a legend is beside the point. Even myths and legends have the capacity to inspire, but none has made the greatest impact than the story of Christmas. I might doubt Christmas as an actual historical event, but I cannot deny the fact that it is more than a story. It is a cultural phenomenon -- a patchwork of different stories of people who were touched by its message. As a cultural phenomenon, Christmas has great influence over believers and non-believers alike. Some of my fondest and earliest memories are connected to Christmas.

Christmas has always reminded me of the really important things. I do not want to make this sound cheesy or cliché, but more than the gifts, parties, foods, and drinks, Christmas is really about family. There are no other holidays that have the same unifying spirit as Christmas when it comes to family.

Like the family that was stranded in Bethlehem more than two-thousand years ago, we must also able to find hope even in the most dire of situations and even in the most humble of places. If it were only for this merit, I would be willing to believe in miracles…


  1. i liked how you have put hope in Christmas

  2. Shame the Magi/Nativity story was plagiarized from the Zoroastrians.

    Father Christmas made the greatest impact on Christmas - the plagiarized nativity is secondary. I could be wrong - maybe Saternalia, Feast of Juvenalia (honouring the children of Rome), Feast of the Kalens (Newyear/Janice - generosity, good will to all men, evergreens decorated with candles, bowls of laurel) made the greater impact.

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