The Christmas story tells us about a God who comes to us, not in dazzling light but in a cattle trough. Sure, the angels do their pyrotechnics, but they are only there to point to the real sign, some strips of cloth and a manger.
We often find it hard to get our heads around God. The Christmas story makes it both easier and more difficult. Easier because it is a sign that says ‘look here’. Harder because what we see is not what we expected to see or what we want to see.
People ask me why God doesn't show himself more openly. We human beings seem to want blazing lights that show us everything. But on that first Christmas Day the blazing light wasn't shining over Bethlehem. It shone over the hills . It helped the shepherds but it was a sign about a sign, not the sign itself.
Sorry if that last sentence confused you. But the real sign is the strips of cloth and the manger. God doesn't come to us in blazing light. He comes and lies down in a dark, cattle trough. Try and get your head around that this Christmas. It changes everything.