A teenage girl and a young man left their town in Galilee to travel south to Bethlehem, just outside Jerusalem. The trip couldn't have been easy, especially for the young woman whose womb was stretched to bursting with a pregnancy in its ninth month, We know the story well - too well perhaps to be astonished by the scandal of it all.
Certainly it was scandalous that Mary had conceived a child out of wedlock. We know that. But just like the Jews of her day, we miss the deeper "scandal" of divine proportions that was developing in her womb. For God had done the unthinkable - he had fathered a child with a human being. And his child would be born as any other human being - covered in blood, screaming for air, and still attached to his mother by a fleshy cord. Together, God and young woman had produced a child unique in the history of heaven and earth.
But the scandal didn't end with Jesus' birth. For the God who created the earth allowed Mary and Joseph to take custody of his only Son. Arms that God himself had made would cradle Divinity. The plan and purpose of God would be accomplished through weakness, through human limitation, through dependency - through an infant who was as vulnerable to disaster as any human being who ever lived.
This, indeed, is scandal. It overthrows everything we ever thought about God. No longer is he a God who looks down on us from a a lofty height. Instead, he is a tender Father, who cannot bear to be separated from his creatures, who is driven to reveal his true nature by performing the greatest miracle of all - allowing his Son to become one of us, to take us by the hand and lead us out of darkness, to know God even as we are known by him. This is the scandal, this is the miracle, this is the truth that sets us free.