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Christmas is full of the spectacular: angels in the sky praising God, wise men travelling from the East, miracles abounding. But Christmas is also full of the ordinary and the mundane: Joseph and Mary facing the logistical nightmare of a journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the hassles of not being able to find a place to rest, the birth of a baby in less-than-perfect surroundings, the ordinary shepherds being summoned to worship.

Christianity is an odd combination of the stupendous and the mundane, of the spiritual and the physical. At times, we favour one over the other (most of us prefer the spiritual, because we like the spectacular!) We enjoy the trappings and trimmings of Christmas because they are pretty and unusual, but we have to acknowledge the humdrum as well (traipsing through shops to buy presents, working out shopping lists to feed an extended family over Christmas and so on.) We need both; both form part of our lives.

Christmas is essentially reassuring, because it reminds us that God values the ordinary. There was no beaming down of a fully formed God-man to earth; instead, the miraculous intervention of the Holy Spirit coming upon a virgin sat alongside the normal gestational period and the messiness of labour. There was pomp and ceremony with the hosts of angels startling ordinary people, but there was also the smell and mess of the stable birth. There was the miraculous appearance of a star to men in a country far away, but there was also the near-disaster of assumptions leading to a visit to a palace. God has never despised the ordinary and values us in our everyday lives, however boring or unspectacular these seem to us.