Once upon a time, actually before time, before sundials or calendars or clocks, there was God. That's all there was.
No one knows anything about that time because no one was there. But in that time before time, God decided to make a world.
Maybe God was lonely or bored or maybe God just thought it was time to make something really big. He made a glorious world filled with prickly porcupines, magnificent evergreen trees, enormous blue whales and birds with more colors than the super sized box of Crayola crayons.
It was a wonderful world but something seemed to be missing, there was nothing in this world that was like God. So he got very busy making something in his own image so that people would know about the one who had created this wondrous place. God knew what this one thing should be but he also knew what it was like to be alone, so right away he knew he must make two things, one alone wouldn't do.
God created these two things, a man and a woman, both like him yet different yet both were reflections of him. They would be company for each other and for him, too. Flesh and blood is what he made them of which allowed them to be extremely flexible and warm to the touch. He delighted in watching them stretch and yawn and laugh and play. He knew also how fragile they were and very soon God realized he was falling in love with them.
He liked them better than anything else and he often walked with them in the garden in the cool evenings. The man and the woman were free to roam about in the garden and there was only one tree they could not touch. It almost broke God's heart when they did the one thing God asked them not to do and then they went and hid from him.
Nothing was ever the same after that. God still loved them just as much, but the feeling was not mutual. Humans had other things on their minds. They became busy learning how to make things grow, how to build things and buy things and sell things and they depended less and less on God. Night after night he would invite them to walk with him but they said they were sorry, they were too busy.
In only a short time it seems those people nearly forgot about him. They called themselves self-made men and women and they went about improving their self esteem and began quarreling among themselves. They divided into groups, each claiming to be better than the others, each claiming more space for themselves. Things continued to go from bad to worse, the quarrels and conflicts grew until some were even fighting each other.
God used every means he could think of to call the people back to him. There was drought and flood, manna, messengers and angels. He got inside their dreams and woke them in the night with his whispering. No matter what he tried he still collided with their selfishness. Oh, certainly some people heard him and tried to honor him but there was so much in the world that pulled them away.
Babies, however, were the one big exception. God could talk to them and they would laugh and coo. Babies didn't go to war, they didn't make hate speeches or refuse to play with one another because they belonged to a different church or lived in a different part of town. Everyone seemed to love babies and people would pick them up and hug them and kiss them.
And that gave God an idea. Actually it was an incredible idea! What if he made himself into one of those precious creatures! First he thought he better run this by a committee of angels. When he told them of his plan they couldn't believe their ears--God entering the world as an ordinary baby, a helpless infant?? They thought it was a terrible risk. Shouldn't he consider at least taking some of his special powers with him in case things did not go well?
God thanked them for their concerns but he said, "No, he would just be a regular baby." How else could he gain people's trust? How else could he persuade people that he knew their lives unless he lived among them, as one of them? Heaven knows, he had tried everything else and he was still willing to take this great risk.
The angels were finally convinced and they said, "Ok God, but please could we make the announcement?" The clouds parted a little and they looked down on a scrubby, rough field with shepherds huddled by the fire keeping watch over their sheep. "Let's go" said the lead angel and a glorious light appeared right before those shepherds and they were terrified. Then the angel said, "Do not be afraid for see, I am bringing you good news of great joy, to you is born this day a Savior who is the Messiah, the Lord. You will find the child lying in a manger.
That dazzling light immediately caught the attention of those humble shepherds. After all it's usually pretty quiet out there at night with only the sheep for company. They listened to the message of the angels and went to Bethlehem and found that Baby Jesus. They knelt beside his bed, their hearts and minds opened right up and they knew that they had seen God.
And that little baby smiled. AMEN