The world is full of a diverse array of people. We come from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, have different styles and accents, use different lingo, and possess unique behavioral quirks. I am reminded by the diversity among humanity every time I stand in line at the grocery store or sit in an airport terminal. While we form groups based on preferences and similarities and judge each other based on our differences, fundamentally we are all the same. We are driven by the same desires and share the same needs, which is why we bump into different people at the grocery store in an airport security line. And most importantly, we were all created in the image of God.
As I spend my mornings gazing at the Christmas tree lights and pondering the manger scene and the intricate layers to that first Christmas story, the diversity represented in the story of Jesus’s birth stands out like never before. Twenty-twenty has been an unusual year with issues that bubbled to the surface surrounding that of unity and reconciliation. Amid the tension and division of our nation and the heightened sense of diversity and differences in opinion, background, ethnicity, and life station, the unlikely worshipers of that first Christmas stand out as a beautiful picture of the unity only God can bring.
Have you ever gazed at the nativity and pondered the eclectic mix of people gathered around the manger? Jesus brought the most unlikely people together. Unlike traditional nativity sets, the actual manger scene did not include the wise men—they arrived much later. However, the manger ground became a place where everyone became equals. The rich were not more important than the peasant nor the prestigious town leader more honored than the lowly shepherd. Everyone put aside their differences and forgot class divides as they gazed in awe on God’s holy face.
Angels joined the sheep and stable animals in worshipping their Creator. Lowly shepherds, cast away by good society and treated as lower class citizens, were the first to behold the Savior of the world. Soon, however, they stood shoulder to shoulder with those who formerly discriminated them staring in wonder at the infant in a manger.
Poor peasants were graced with a visit from wealthy, prestigious wise men. What did Joseph and Mary think when the regal entourage arrived, bearing precious gifts? They would never have dreamed to brush shoulders with men such as these. However, they not only stood in the company of great men from afar, but they watched as these sages bowed low to worship their infant son.
God brought together young and old, rich and poor, men of significance in the eyes of the world and men shunned by society. All came with the shared purpose of worshipping the Savior. They didn’t notice their differences as they gazed on the face of their Creator. No one was rejected or asked to leave the presence of the King of kings. All were welcome and all were invited.
And the same God who gathered shepherds and magi and wrote them into the Christmas story invites us to gather around the manger and behold His Gift to humanity. We are invited to brush shoulders with men and women from all different walks of life, parts of the world, and backgrounds as we adore and worship the Hope of the world.
The first Christmas story included some unlikely worshipers, and since then, Jesus continues to bring together the most unlikely people. Will we join their number? This Christmas as we ponder and reflect what happened so long ago, may we remember that only God can bring perfect unity and reconciliation, drawing together people from every tribe, language, people, and nation and inviting them into His family. May we join the wise men, shepherds, angels, livestock, and Joseph and Mary in worshipping the King of kings!
“When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”
“When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”
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