I enjoyed a wonderful Christmas season and hope everyone who celebrates Christmas did, too. A thought I saw repeatedly this season was along the lines of “The first Christmas was pretty simple. It’s okay if yours is too.”
I felt the intent of the statement. No need to overcomplicate Christmas! During the busy season, simpler plans often enable the spirit of the season to permeate more powerfully.
However, every time I saw that statement, my disagreement with the first Christmas being simple grew. (Although I believe the intent of the statement concerns the logistics of baby Jesus being born inside a manger in a cattle stall.)
What Does Simple Mean?
What does simple even mean? I love words, so I googled its definition.
- easily understood or done; presenting no difficulty, used to emphasize the fundamental and straightforward nature of something.
- plain, basic, or uncomplicated in form, nature, or design; without much decoration or ornamentation, humble and unpretentious.
- composed of a single element; not compound.
- of low or abnormally low intelligence.
Again, I believe the intent of the statement concerned the baby inside a manger in a cattle stall. But to me, the only definition that applies to the nativity is humble.
The Events of Jesus Christ’s Nativity
Think about it. Considering just the events on that night, what occurred?
- Joseph and Mary had to quickly find a place suitable for having a baby without any of the comforts of home or the familiar. I’ve unexpectedly scrambled to find housing in an unfamiliar town. There was nothing simple about locating a place to stay, even with a smartphone. Also, I wasn’t trying to find shelter while in labor.
- Did Mary expect to receive guests soon after giving birth? How late did they arrive? How long did they stay? Exactly how many people came to witness the Savior’s birth is unknown. Theirs was a culture of immense hospitality. Is that anticipation and entertaining “expectation” simple? It’s not simple for me, but maybe it wasn’t an issue for Mary and Joseph.
- Shepherds received an angelic birth announcement. Did the angel rehearse the legendary lines or ad-lib in the moment? Who wrote the script? On Sunday, experienced soloists sang to our ward. Their performances were amazing. The music seemed to flow effortlessly, but I’ve learned of the behind-the-scenes concerns for soloists and their voices. Even in an “easy” performance, more is involved than meets the eye.
- Heavenly hosts appeared and sang to the shepherds. How many angels were needed? Did the choir practice? What details were involved in planning what song to sing? When was the song composed? Was it just the vibrational sounds of the heavens? I can’t imagine anything heavenly just being tossed together at the last moment. The details of the Savior’s birth were known for hundreds of years in advance!
- The shepherds left their flocks and searched for the Savior. Was the plan to leave their sheep easily executable? How long it took to find Jesus and other details of their effort to witness His birth are unknown.
- A new star shone in the sky. A new star shone in the sky! Seriously. A new star in the sky doesn’t fit into any of the definitions of “simple.” The new star had to be more than a localized comet. The new star led the wise men from the East to the Savior in Bethlehem. My mind boggles considering all of the planning, execution, and time needed for a new star to appear in the sky at the precise moment in the precise spot to herald the Savior’s birth.
- In the Americas, the sun set on the night the Savior was born, but there was no darkness. No darkness at all. This simple miracle saved the lives of every believer. It testified of Jesus Christ’s birth on another continent. Again, what and how many elemental principles launched to enable this result at the perfect moment? What do you think would cause a night of light to occur?
- Nephi recorded his answered prayer. As he prayed to God the day of the Savior’s birth, his prayer was answered that Jesus would be born that day. It was fixed. It was immutable. His birth was that day—bet your life on it!
That Night Impacted Thousands of People on Multiple Continents
So while Jesus, Mary, and Joseph sat in humble and, we assume, unadorned circumstances, the nativity of Jesus Christ impacted and included thousands of people on multiple continents and on both sides of the veil!
This list doesn’t even consider the myriad of prophets in various time frames, and countries, and continents who testified of the specifics of the Savior’s birth. They knew His name. They knew Mary’s name. They knew Bethlehem. They knew the time frame. Types and shadows in hundreds of lives for hundreds of years pointed to Jesus Christ’s birth.
For me, the Nativity represents the most detailed planning and execution imaginable, but without the harried stress that generally accompanies our holiday experiences. Everything happened in its time and exactly as planned.
To me, the nativity is also the most amazing demonstration of a Father announcing the birth of His Beloved Son! He let His friends and loved ones know through lights and sound and invitation! This Father took care of all the details to honor mother and child. The heavens resounded “Joy to the World! The Lord is come, Let saints and angels sing!” Divine and human witnesses proclaimed that HIs Son, the Messiah, had come.
What a glorious night! What an opportunity for us to still celebrate, to feel the power of that night in our lives, to declutter and uncomplicate, simplify, our lives, enabling us to fully immerse ourselves in the Lord’s glorious miracles of that night and the wondrous possibilities of our own lives.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.