About 490,000 people will be born today across the world
Just over 800 of them will be born in Australia.
Some of them will be born in maternity wards in hospitals, others in homes.
A few of them will be born in taxis or cars on the way to the planned delivery places
Some will be born in streets, some in refugee camps, some in warzones
Many of them – far too many - will be born into poverty.
Some will be born surrounded by animals.
That’s the reality of Christmas. That’s the reality of birth in our world.
Every single one of those babies will bring disruption to the plans of others
They will change sleeping patterns immediately;
those that survive infancy will bring anguish and concern for years.
They will inspire protective behaviour from their parents, their family and community.
Even the most meek person may be moved to significant courage and strength
in order to protect the most vulnerable: a baby.
They will provoke tears in others.
Tears when pain is experienced; tears when communication seems impossible
They will bring delight unimaginable joy.
Joy that has the ability to reduce intelligent, articulate adults
into apparently babbling incoherent lunatics.
Joy that has the capacity to reduce people to silence and awe.
Each of those 490,000 babies born today carry in them the image of God.
And not because they happen to be born on 25th December
as if all babies born on 25 December have some special divine nature about them
But because they are born.
Every one of them is born carrying the image of God.
Like snowflakes falling from the sky (or from the ceiling beams) no two are identical –
In fact as we know not even identical twins are identical!
But still each is in the image of God.
Christmas loses its power and much of its meaning
if we reduce Christmas to a story of “back then” –
and even more so if it is seen to be ‘just a story’.
The depth of a child born as “Emmanuel – God with us”
is at its most profound when we don’t sideline the Christmas story to being a story
but accept that it is describing as much as it is narrating
Christmas is Christmas when we let it come alive
Christmas is Christmas when we realise that every one of the 490,000 babies born today
carries the image of God.
And whether or not it is in precisely the same way as the infant Jesus carried that image,
it is still no less profound, and no less important.
Like wombat, we may not find our place in this world as the wise men
Like wombat, we may not find our place in this world as the protector of the child
Like wombat, we may not find our place in this world as a messenger of great news
It may simply be that we find our place in this world
when we look at ourselves and see the image of God
Because that may then inspire us to also look at 490,000 new babies every day
And see the image of God.
The story moves from the pages of a book to the reality of life
When we let it come alive as part of us, and when we realise we are the story.
My Christmas wish for you is that the story will indeed come alive
I wish for you the light
that was born in you
when God first spoke
I wish for you the word
that echoed in heaven
when she heard of God’s plans
I wish for you the time
to grow into what God imagined in you
in the first moment
of your creation
I wish for you the hope
that keeps you travelling
across whatever horizons
shape your life
I wish for you the promise
of birth and hope
and word and journey
I wish for you the experience
of life always coming true
through God’s own word
born in you today