Manger scene, no date, public domain

From the Pulpit: Royalty born in a manger at Christmas

A special birth in humble circumstances happened more than 2,000 years ago

By Pastor Paul Ford

If I were to ask “What are your plans for Christmas?” most of you would respond, “What plans?” Perhaps this is a good year to sit back, relax, and re-examine what typically makes the season such a blur.

I enjoy seeing the lights, walking through the mall, enjoying the festivity that is part of the season. No mall wandering this year! I also enjoy the family time and feasting. I’m sure you have time-honoured traditions as well.

Since the opportunity is ours, let’s simplify things a little and step back in time, perhaps 2,000 years or so. That first Christmas was not celebrated in the way we do. What we do know is that a loving God stepped into the world in a new manner, via a baby born to a young woman: born in obscurity, in a manger.

So what is the significance? First of all, Mary’s pregnancy came not by Joseph, her fiancé. The Bible tells us it was by God’s design and power, through the Holy Spirit. As such, the angel who visited Mary to prepare her for this announced “The child will be called holy—the Son of God.”

A special birth in such humble circumstances needs to have some reconciliation. Why these oddities? The first reason is found in the baby’s names. Jesus means “God saves”, and a second name — “Immanuel” — means “God with us”. His names reveal both His mission and His identity, and are confirmed by the angel’s words to nearby shepherds: “The Saviour — the Lord — has been born today in Bethlehem.”

To some of those who witnessed it, His birth seemed to be merely circumstantial: the rooms in the inn were all occupied. But from God’s perspective it was indicative of who Jesus would be: a servant, one whom people would not be drawn to because of His looks or rank, but because of who He was and is.

Pastor Paul Ford is with the Sage Hills Evangelical Free Church in Ashcroft ( Contact him at

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