The Absurdity of Christmas

The Christmas story doesn’t make sense. At all. This heretical thought that came to my mind as I watched our church’s Christmas program. The orchestra played the familiar carols beautifully, the choir was excellent, the soloists sang well and the tenor quartet performed their numbers wonderful harmony. Between the musical numbers my favorite pastor shared the story of Christmas simply, eloquently and with appropriate emotion. He spoke of the angel appearing to Mary, of the fear and wonder that must have gripped her as she was told that she, a virgin, was to give birth to the Messiah. He shared with us the Christian teaching that God became man in the person of Jesus, that from embryo to fetus to newborn baby to young child God existed in human flesh.

As he spoke I thought of how absurd this all sounded.

Seriously? Do we actually believe this? It makes no sense at all. It is difficult at times to believe there is a God at all, to believe that the all powerful creator of the universe would enter the human race via the womb of a virgin seems akin to believing in unicorns and pixie dust. The story sounds like a fantasy tale, the ridiculous creation of an unintelligent mind under the influence of an illegal substance.

And yet there we all were, over 2000 of us in this church alone, singing and clapping and celebrating this tale as undeniable truth. To these worshippers Christmas is not a fable or a myth, it is a timeless truth to be remembered and commemorated. The joyous celebration of which I was apart was and is not unique, nor is it novel or new. Similar celebrations have been held around the globe for hundreds of years. The natural question is, "How could so many believe so intensely in an event that seems so implausible?"

There are many reasons. The obvious reason is the person the baby in question grew up to be. His life, his teachings, his death and his resurrection are the evidence that supports the miraculous tale. Miraculous birth is more reasonable in the context of a miraculous life. The knowledge that this birth was foretold adds to its believability.  A review of the Hebrew scriptures written hundreds of years before the event leads to the discovery that this remarkable birth was not just anticipated, but predicted.

The Christmas story does not make sense. It defies human reasoning and is contrary to our understanding. Man's disbelief does not change the fact that it happened, just as the gospel writers described it. In a stable in a small town outside of Jerusalem, the Divine appeared in human flesh. Timeless God entered time, becoming the one man who would die for the sins of all mankind. It is miraculous, incredible and absurd, but it is true. Believe it or not.

-          Bart