From the Rt. Rev’d. Laish Boyd, Diocesan Bishop
A stable is a smelly place full of animals, straw, urine, dung and dampness. Animals, though cute and adorable, are not easy on the nostrils. But that is where Jesus was born. A stable does not meet our present-day standards for public health, sanitation or sterile conditions – you would not want your baby or grandbaby to be born there. But that is where Jesus was born.
The Irish hymn-writer, Cecil Francis Alexander, (1818-1895) wrote these words in her famous hymn “Once in Royal David’s City”. Her point was that while we may see Jesus in the manger at Christmas, that was NOT his final form or destination. “Not in that poor lowly stable, with the oxen standing by. We shall see him but in heaven, set at God’s right hand on high”.
Here is just the point: Jesus put off His divine nature and took on human form, the form of a servant (Philippians 2: 6-8). Jesus became fully human to the extent that he was born of a human mother in circumstances that were not far-removed for an ordinary poor person of the first century (0-99 AD).
Although born in a stable, that was not the extent of His worth or impact – not in that poor, lowly stable.
He went on to be baptized and to have an impactful earthly ministry, teaching, preaching, working miracles, inspiring others, transforming lives, confronting selfishness and turning Palestine upside down.
Jesus had an impact after His earthly life down through the ages, affecting human history and current affairs more than any other single human being.
The Christmas message is here to teach us that our best self is not in our humble beginnings, nor in our lowest moments, nor is it when we dwell in the “stables” and “mangers” of our lives. Our best self is not in that poor, lowly stable. Our destination is where God has for us to be, what we can become and where we can go – because of God.
Embrace this for yourself and help others to realize this in their various struggles and circumstances.
The joy of Christmas only has meaning when we can BECOME…and when we help others to BECOME as well.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Anglican Diocese of The Bahamas and The Turks and Caicos Islands.