She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger. . . .
— Luke 2:7

At the very heart of Christmas we find a rag-wrapped baby lying in a makeshift crib. By itself, that’s not so unusual. Babies show up when and where they happen to be born. Mothers have to deal with it, ready or not. And they do, whether the baby is delivered in a hospital, in a taxicab, or on a kitchen floor.
What’s unusual here is not the rags. Mary improvised, using what was available. And what’s unusual is not the manger. That was just a smart solution to an urgent need. No, what’s unusual here is the baby ­himself.
Now, this baby has the usual number of fingers and toes. You just know that Mary counts them. This baby has the usual smooth, soft skin. You just know that Mary adores his little cheeks. And this baby makes all the usual sounds: coos and gurgles and wails. You just know that Mary takes in these sounds as sweet ­music.
What’s unusual about this baby is not his actual flesh and blood, not his appearance, not his behavior. No, what’s unusual about this baby is the identity veiled by his helpless human form. Because this baby is the God “through [whom] all things were made” (John 1:3). This is a wonder.

Son of Mary, help us to wonder as we wander through your story this month. Deepen our faith as we encounter your genuinely human glory. Amen.

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