The Christmas message of Archbishop Tapio Luoma of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
A particularly ordinary celebration
The description of the first Christmas in the Christmas gospel dates back two thousand years. The venue was the small eastern corner of the mighty Roman Empire. The protagonists were ordinary, modest people, a carpenter and his young bride.
The arduous journey from the northern homeland to Bethlehem in the south was just one of many similar ones, as the emperor’s tax order had set people in motion to the ancestral cities of their families. There was nothing strange about the fact that a small child was born during the trip and that the lack of space forced them to settle for poor accommodation.
So there is nothing miraculous in itself about the story of the first Christmas. What is amazing, however, is how one stage of life experienced by ordinary people a long time ago has become so significant that it recurs every year all over the world. What makes this past event so special that it is of great universal significance?
The key to understanding the special nature of Christmas and at the same time its universality is the child born in Bethlehem, Jesus. In Him, God was born as a man, one of us. That is why God knows what it is to be human, and that is why we can trust Him and His guidance with confidence.
The specialness and the ordinariness of the Christmas events also remind us that to God no one is unimportant. He is in the midst of all kinds of human life, be it ordinary or extraordinary. Everyone is precious in His eyes and He loves everyone. That is why Christmas is a great celebration of humanity, and the more anxiety and suffering we notice in the world, the more relevant it is.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Lk. 2:14, ESV)
Archbishop Tapio Luoma
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland