It is a long time since I considered myself Christian in any way but the sentiments of this time of the year and the story of the birth of Jesus still resonate with me in many ways.
The only thing about the whole story which annoys me is the virgin birth part which I never believed and always seemed to me to be belittling women. (That’s maybe the subject of a future post).
There are several things about the story which I do like and which still have meaning for me. Firstly the fact that Jesus, his parents and most of the main characters were very poor and humble. I think there is something deep in the fact that divinity shows itself first to the poor and down-trodden. (And in fairness, that theme continues in much of the Christian story although it is not always reflected in some modern Christian beliefs).
Secondly I like the fact that animals are very important to the story. That seems to bring the whole thing down to earth and reminds me that animals also matter to the divine. Moreover, we are animals ourselves. The birth in the stable seems to bring down all the barriers we put up between other animals and ourselves.
Thirdly there is a lot of magic in the story (natural and supernatural) and some of the first people to recognize that divinity has come into the world were magicians/astrologers/astronomers/pagans.
And lastly the whole crux of the story is that divinity is packed into something as innocent and vulnerable as a baby. In that sense I think the baby Jesus represents the importance and potential of every child that is ever born.
The story isn’t original of course. Most pagans and historians can point out the similarities with pre-Christian myths such as that of Osiris and Dionysus. But within the broadly Christian culture of the west all these ideas are brought down to us in the Christian nativity story. And to me although my celebrations are based on the pagan traditions, the traditional story of the birth of Jesus is still an important aspect of a magical and special time of the year.