You have heard the story as a child, but I would like to invite you to hear it with new ears. You must understand what happened at the beginning or nothing that happened after will make any sense.
In the beginning God created all things. He made the world in all its beauty and glory as a way to teach mankind about Himself. He created a special place in the world, a Garden, where He could walk with man side by side and speak to him as a Father speaks to His children.
God created the human race with all the grace necessary to live with Him in the Garden forever. He gave them all the earth to cultivate and satisfy their needs, and asked only one thing from them in return. In the middle of the Garden there were two trees, a Tree of Knowledge, and a Tree of Life. The man and the woman could eat the fruit of all the trees except the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, for they were not yet ready to receive it.
One day a spirit entered the Garden, a spirit fallen through the sin of pride and vanity. And through the subtlety of a serpent, the spirit tested the faith of our first parents. From the very beginning the father of lies twisted the words that God had spoken to the man and woman. It offered them a lie. The serpent told them that they would be like God. But they were already like God for they were created in His own image and likeness. Still the words of the serpent persuaded them and in the end they trusted in their own will rather than the will of their Creator. They trusted the words of the serpent who had given them nothing, and turned away from the Father who had given them everything.
This turning away caused the loss of the grace God gave them at their creation. It changed their very nature, their life in the Spirit died away and they became a fallen people, fallen from grace. This loss of grace would be the source of all the pain and suffering that was to come upon them and their descendants. Some say this left a "God - shaped" hole in the heart of man. But it is also fair to say that it left a "man - shaped" hole in the heart of God. He longs to be with us just as much as we long to be with Him.
Mercifully, God put the man and the woman out of the garden before they could eat the fruit from the Tree of Life and live forever in their fallen state. God then made them a promise that one day He would send a savior who would restore to them their life in the Spirit and offer to mankind the opportunity to reclaim their birthright, the grace of God.
And then man waited. For thousands of years he waited, for to God, a thousand years are as a day. And for all those thousands of years, as the faith of men ebbed and flowed like the tide, the prophets reminded the people of God's promise. They reminded the people that God promised He would send a savior, one anointed with the Spirit of God, who would save them from the darkness and death caused by sin.
Finally the last prophet, a voice crying out in the wilderness, announced His coming, the one who would lift us from our fallen state. The savior came; not as a conquering king with a host of angels to drive out the wickedness in the world. Rather, He came as an infant, pouring Himself into our human nature, in order to save us. From this lowly state He would topple thrones and conquer empires.
Today we celebrate the fulfillment of the promise God made to our first parents so many ages ago. Today, Heaven and Earth meet in Bethlehem. God becomes one of us, to lead us back to Him. Today we celebrate the birth of a child whose very name tells us that “God saves.”
It is popular in these days to believe that all religions are the same, that they are all just different paths to the same end. But Christianity is unique. In all other religions man reaches out to God, seeking to climb his way back to heaven. But only in Christianity, does God climb down and reach back.