Underneath all the glitter of tinsel, chiming of silver bells, aroma of sugar cookies in the oven, flashing of brightly colored lights on evergreen trees, and frantic shopping for gifts rests an ancient stable where beasts of burden slept at the end of a long day. This stable, and the significance it has for the Christmas holiday, perhaps has been obscured by a culture of commercialization and in some instances by raw materialism, but it nevertheless persists in its most humble way of reminding us that all the merriment, cheer, goodwill, and wishes for peace on earth have their source in something deeper.
The oldest living organisms on the earth can be found high in the mountains of California. Certain rugged, knotty pines in the high deserts have lived an unbelievable 5,000 years. They were already 3,000 years old when a young Jewish woman carefully placed her newborn infant into a feeding trough in that stable. In their perspective, the events of that first Christmas happened just a few years ago.
Just a few miles away from our home in Turkey stands the awesome Hagia Sofia Cathedral, built in 532 AD. Massive paintings and mosaics grace its walls in an attempt to celebrate among other things, the birth of this most unique of babies in a stable.
It all happened so long ago, that it’s not surprising how easily all the modern means of celebrating Christmas overshadow the events surrounding the birth of a boy to first century Jewish peasants living in the Roman Empire. Yet from another perspective, his world was not so far removed from our world. And the sheer impact this birth has had on civilizations and individuals clearly indicate the nature of the one born. If it celebrates anything at all, Christmas celebrates a King.
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