Alert - if the stories around Christmas are essential to you, to be protected as absolutely literal at all costs, please skip this entry. You would find it upsetting.
I've been pondering the stories, the history, etc. Paul's letters were written first, and he makes no mention of Jesus' birth, other than that he was born of woman. Mark was written next, and he makes no mention of Jesus' birth and starts with his adult life. John was the last Gospel written, and he makes no mention of Jesus' birth. Matthew and Luke tell different stories about the birth, including where their home was - Bethlehem in one and Nazareth but traveled to Bethlehem in the other.
The first thing that jumps out at me is that the birth was not important to the early followers of The Way. It was not a topic of prime conversation and teaching.
The second thing that jumps out at me is the "details" that are mentioned in Matthew and Luke could not be accurate not only because the two who wrote about it don't agree, but also because historically they don't match up. Example - there was no census. Can you imagine the chaos that would cause to have everyone (mostly poor people) travel to their family historical birthplace, on foot for the most part, in the coldest time of year? It is not mentioned in Roman history, and neither is the killing of Jewish baby boys. One more example, stars are millions of light years away and are huge. They don't come close to earth and point out a particular place. I could go on and on, but I want to get to a hypothesis.
The people of the Bible were people who were interested in meaning and not historical accuracy. We see that over and over again. They were poetic and tellers of stories. Jesus often taught in parables. Let's consider that perhaps the birth stories are parables that tell us deeper meaning, more mystical and spiritual meanings than possible if the magic were actually the story.
I encourage you to consider what deeper meanings are in this story, once we look at them as parables.
I'll give an example. In Luke the little family had visitors. There were the shepherds. To the history of the Jewish people, shepherds were important. Most of the main men in the Old Testament were shepherds - think Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Joseph, David, etc. The shepherds were the caretakers of the wealth of the people - the sheep. They were often doctors and healers and the ones who settled disputes. They fended off thieves and wild animals. They were key to the history of the Jewish people. In a parable, they come representing all of that- and they stand in for his people by bringing welcoming and acknowledgment. First, he came for his own historical people.
Then there came wise men, probably around 3 years later. They confer with the powers of domination in Jerusalem, but they don't stay there for they go to the now toddler bearing gifts. They represent the outside world who later come to honor Jesus' Way. They bring valuable things to the new movement. And importantly also, they acknowledge the spiritual kingdom and the turning from the world powers of domination. Jesus taught the kingdom within and the way to live a spiritual life, he was not about worldly power.
I challenge you to re-read the birth stories and consider that if they truly are parables, what profound and deep meanings are they carrying across the ages to us? I believe as parable they can lead us to a new spiritual understanding that will change our lives and lead us to be more awake and able to walk The Way.
Oh, Divine Presence, open the doors of my deepest place and lead me to understand the messages in the parables. Show me how to walk The Way more fully. Lead me into this coming new year as one who is waking up the Seed You have planted in me. What a glorious feeling flows over me as I see more fully. Thank You dear God.