25 December 2011

Luke 2:1-20

"And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him on bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." (v. 7)


Happy Christmas! Glory to God in the highest heaven! Christ is born in Bethlehem! In the words of a lesser known carol, our God is "contracted to a span" (Let earth and heaven combine, verse 1); the distance between your extended thumb and little finger, poetically at least.

'Crime in a multi-story car-park - wrong on so many different levels' is probably funnier than most of the jokes you find in your crackers this Christmas. And it leads me to ponder: 'the birth of Jesus - joyful on so many different levels'.

The joy of the mother - despite the stressful circumstances - giving birth to her firstborn. The joy of Joseph, we presume, who has come to terms with these strange and wonderful goings on. The joy of the angels, heaven's messengers, overflowing in songs of praise (verse 14). The joy of the shepherds, on the margins of society, returning to their fields glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen (verse 20). And subsequently, the wise men, overwhelmed with joy when the star they were following stopped over the place where the child lay (Matthew 2:10).

And down the centuries and across the globe; all nations, all peoples, all ages, you and me - celebrating the simple joy of the birth of a child - and the profound joy of God incomprehensibly being born amongst us. Joyful on so many different levels!

To Ponder

"Our God contracted to a span." Look at your hands. Extend your fingers and thumbs. Reflect on the implications of God entering our world in such a small and vulnerable state.

Joy can be known even in the darkest times because it is rooted in the message of this day - the assurance that God is with us. What does it means for you that God is with you? Seek joy in that.

What sources of joy are there in your life and do you need to remind yourself of them?

Bible notes author

The Revd Graham Jones

Graham Jones is a Methodist presbyter serving as a member of the Discipleship and Ministries Learning Network in the Yorkshire Plus region of the Methodist Church, with particular responsibility for ministry development. Graham is committed to developing ministry in its broadest sense, enabling both lay and ordained to live out their vocations, and to share in God's mission in the most fulfilling and effective ways.