25 December 2016

Luke 2:1-20

"But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart." (v. 19)

Psalm: Psalm 110


With the orchestration and implementation of a national census,
surrounded by the crowds flocking to their hometowns,
a farmyard cacophony providing the Surround Sound for the impromptu maternity unit,
heralded with angelic songs and proclamations,
accompanied by the bleating of sheep and the mumbles of the much maligned seasonal workers,
God moves into the neighbourhood.

God moves into the neighbourhood.

God moves into the neighbourhood in a totally unexpected way. This is not the entrance of a military saviour, riding in to sweep the world off its feet and bring forth the kingdom of God with might, authority and power. This unmistakeable, unremarkable, world-changing moment is a historical event, marked indelibly into Roman history through governors, Caesars and Herod.

God moves into the neighbourhood with the ancient equivalent of diapers and gurgles and perfect innocence. Bloody. Wrinkly. The future of the whole of the universe is on his swaddled shoulders and toothless gums. Jesus enters the world in an unorthodox fashion with questionable, public, family circumstances.

God moves into the neighbourhood and the angels accompany Jesus' arrival with the melodic promise of hope and peace in the midst of chaos, power and politics. The world will never be the same again. Here in Luke's Gospel, this news is not shared with academics, intellectuals, or the elite. Instead the good news of transformation and promise is shared with outcast shepherds - the poor and despised workers of the Bethlehem night-time economy. The migrant, transient, seasonal, workers become the first recipients of this message.

As God moves into the neighbourhood, so the lives of those initial recipients are transformed. The shepherds leave rejoicing. The exhausted, confused, deeply uncomfortable, new teenage mother, Mary, take the space to notice and to receive the blessing of the moment. She breathes deeply and treasures these world-changing months.

To Ponder

  • If the good news of Jesus is for the migrant, transient, seasonal workers - how does this change the way we 'do' church?
  • Where do you need the promise of the Prince of Peace in your life, family, and neighbourhood?
  • What can you do today which enables you to breathe deeply and treasure the gift of your present moment?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Joanne Cox-Darling

Joanne Cox-Darling is a Methodist presbyter currently serving in the Wolverhampton Circuit, where most recently she participated in a harvest festival in a farmyard, surrounded by a 'small' dairy herd of nearly 200 cattle. Joanne is the chair of the Christian Enquiries Agency ( - described by the Archbishop of York as the "possibly the easiest form of evangelism you will ever do".