Whatever the story of Jesus may be to the high angels, to us it must, like any other story, involve a beginning. A place where his story begins is a place. The time when it begins is a time. . . .

The how of his birth, all the poetry that has grown up around it — the wise men and the star, the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night, and the hymn the angels sang. If someone had been there with a camera, would he have recorded any of it, or was the birth of Jesus no more if no less wonderful than any other birth? Whatever the answer, it can be based only on faith. There is no other way. The kind of objective truth a camera could have recorded is buried beneath the weight of two thousand years.But there is of course another kind of truth. Whether he was born in 4 BC or AD 6, in Bethlehem or Nazareth, whether there were multitudes of the heavenly host to hymn the glory of it or just Mary and her husband — when the child was born the whole course of human history was changed. That is a truth as unassailable as any truth. Art, music, literature, Western culture itself with all its institutions and Western man's whole understanding of himself and his world — it is impossible to conceive how differently things would have turned out if that birth had not happened whenever, wherever, however it did. And there is a truth beyond that: For millions of people who have lived since, the birth of Jesus made possible not just a new way of understanding life but a new way of living it.

Frederick Buechner, The Faces of Jesus