Christmas does not belong to objective history but to the human heart. The mythic story is told in impossible polarities. There are angels singing all around, but it is a silent night. There is darkness over all, but a bright star shines overhead. The one sent to rescue the world, is a helpless voiceless infant. As political champions and religious scholars sit in Jerusalem to discuss the coming Messiah, an illegitimate child is born in a feeding trough for cattle.
You cannot have angels singing and also a silent night. You cannot have a bright star filling the sky and the darkness described in Christmas hymns. You cannot have Herod reigning with an iron grip, and a baby born to free the world. -And yet we do. The polarities of Christmas are also the contradictions we find in life. It is not an accident that the story is celebrated on the winter solstice. Some version of the “light that shines in the darkness” is found in every mystical religion of the world.
The manger is not a location to be found on any map. It exists nowhere but in the human heart. The impossible contradictions of religion are intended to help us realize that the miracles described in scripture are not objective acts of magic, but evocative pictures of what the world looks like to a loving heart.