It is two days before Christmas and a mighty thunderstorm rages outside. Johannesburg is known for its amazing showers and today is one of them. In Africa we don’t have white Christmas – sometimes wet but never snow-white.

Maybe it’s better to celebrate Christmas in the southern hemisphere; for summertime is definitely truer to the original story than the Hollywood-white- version. Christ was almost certainly not born in December because shepherds were not out in the field with their sheep this time of year. It would have been too cold.

We live in a culture that wants to make all things more spectacular and less ordinary. Our cultures suffer from the disease of upgrading; the latest and the greatest. The birth of Christ has also been upgraded to a cozy scene with candles, straw, warmth and even talking animals. As followers of the manger-choosing God we simply have to resist. Or else we will banish God from the everyday things of life. The romanticism bars Him from entering the stark ordinariness of our lives – for our lives resembles the manger more than the cozy shelter.

The original story was not white, it was probably more brownish. I’m talking about the brown of dung – animal dung – for there were definitely no talking animals but certainly crapping ones!

One of the wonders of Christ’s birth is his willingness to become nothing and to come to those who are nothing – all the ‘whose not’s’ of the world. Those who are unspectacular and shockingly commonplace – people like you and me.

This Christmas I want to celebrate God in the ordinary things: The aches and laughter, the good and the bad tastes, the peace and the war, the tears and the joy. I wish for me and you a brown Christmas.