What in God's name happened that night in Bethlehem 2,020 years ago?

Christmas is a riddle cloaked in mystery and shrouded in the unknown.

These strands of the natural and supernatural are so closely blended that separating either from the other destroys the whole.

Consider the natural portions of this wondrous event, which by themselves represent awesome acts of courage.

Joseph and Mary were a man and woman alone, without guards or weapons or armor or fleet horses.

Yet they survived a grueling 90-mile trip to Bethlehem over rocky trails, through frozen bandit-infested wastelands in the dead of winter.

Joseph walked, and Mary, pregnant to term, rode sidesaddle on a little gray ass her husband used to deliver carpentry work.

After this incredible journey, the woman would give birth alone, without medical attention or anesthetics, on a straw pallet in a stable full of animals.

Again defying all odds, the child would not only survive but grow to manhood, not only endure, but prevail. He would become the basis of a religion that, two centuries later, is still vital, is still relevant in today's world, and which can still provide answers to those who seek them.

History is littered with dead religions, beliefs that once flourished, once brought comfort and answers, but which have now died out.

No one's written an obituary to Christianity yet. Unless someone finds Jesus’ body, no one's likely to.

Consider the supernatural elements of the wondrous Christmas tale.

Angels bear messages. One angel tells Mary -- believed by most scholars to have been a girl in her mid-teens -- she is to remain a virgin, but yet will bear the Son of God.

Another angel explains all this to Joseph, and makes him understand why his wife, who wasn't pregnant when she left to visit her aunt, was with child upon her return to Joseph three months later.

The entire question of a virgin birth -- a child without a natural father born to a virgin -- defies rational explanation. Such an event has never been duplicated in the millions of years of man's history before it and in the 2,020 years since.

We celebrate Dec. 25 as the birth of Jesus. In truth, though, the exact day and month of His birth are unknown. There's likely not a month of the year that some scholar hasn't fixed as The Month.

Whatever happened, and whenever it happened, the world has been a better place ever since.

The truth is out there, but we're not likely to pin it down.

Nor should we.

Some mysteries should remain unsolved.

Merry Christmas.

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