The royal baby celebrated his first Christmas with his parents and the rest of the royal family. Following tradition, his family exchanged presents on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day. Then they changed into formal clothes for a black-tie dinner. On Christmas Day, he attended church services with the entire family, followed by lunch and the Queen’s annual televised address to the nation at 3 PM. Quite a busy holiday for the little fellow.
His official title is His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge. As impressive as that sounds, George has a ways to go to rival his grandfather. The full name of Prince Charles of England is Charles Philip Arthur George of the House of Windsor. His titles are: His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales; Knight of the Garter; Knight, Order of the Thistle; Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester; Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay; Earl of Carrick and Baron Renfrew; Lord of the Isles and Great Steward of Scotland; Personal Aide-de-Camp to the Queen; and Great Master of the Order of the Bath. Try fitting that onto a business card.
By contrast, the Son of God left his royal throne in heaven for a feed trough on earth. He “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7-8). What does the first Christmas tell us about God today?
Consider my favorite Christmas reflection from C. S. Lewis: “Did you ever think, when you were a child, what fun it would be if your toys could come to life? Well suppose you could really have brought them to life. Imagine turning a tin soldier into a real little man. It would involve turning the tin into flesh. And suppose the tin soldier did not like it. He is not interested in flesh: all he sees is that the tin is being spoilt. He thinks you are killing him. He will do everything he can to prevent you. He will not be made into a man if he can help it.
“What you would have done about that tin soldier I do not know. But what God did about us was this. The Second Person in God, the Son, became human Himself: was born into the world as an actual man–a real man of a particular height, with hair of a particular color, speaking a particular language, weighing so many stone. The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but (before that) a baby, and before that a fetus inside a woman’s body. If you want to get the hang of it, think how you would like to become a slug or a crab.”
Theologian J. I. Packer adds: “The Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, needing to be fed and taught to talk like any other child. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as this truth of the Incarnation.”
As St. Augustine noted, “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” Shouldn’t we celebrate Christmas with gratitude, every day?