Friday 25 December 2009

Bible Book:

"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid; for see - I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.'" (v.10-11)

Luke 2:1-20 Friday 25 December 2009


Happy Christmas! Can you hear angels singing "Glory to God inthe highest heaven!"? In churches, cathedrals and chapels todaythese words will ring out in different languages, to differenttunes and, who knows, the angels in heaven may be joining in. Twothousand or so years on, the birth of a small vulnerable refugeechild is still remembered and celebrated. Even on television, inpodcasts, on the radio, bells will chime, voices will raise andhearts will be touched with joy.

Of course we have to watch out that we don't get overwhelmed withsentimentality. The Roman Emperor Augustus was powerful enough todecree that every person in the world should be registered, so acensus of outrageous proportions was to take place. People had totravel to the town where their family hailed from and Joseph had nochoice but to travel to Bethlehem because he descended from theline of King David. To travel heavily pregnant and with noguarantee of a place to stay on arrival was not a small undertakingfor Mary, and we know the outcome. Jesus was born in the place atthe back of the inn where the animals were kept. The Son of God,"mighty saviour" (Luke 1:69), King of Kings was born in scruffyconditions in a small town with all the risks of disease, povertyand living under an oppressive regime.

Just to add to the ignominy of the whole affair, the first peopleinvited to greet the Messiah, the Lord's anointed, were simpleshepherds. Why? We might think that announcing Christ's birth makesfor a lovely pastoral scene - and thousands of nativity plays bearthis out - but there is a much more profound significance to theseevents.

In the old covenant, holiness resided in the Temple. To look uponthe face of God was to die. Shepherds were among those who wereunable to fulfill the rituals required by the religious leaders andso were considered unclean. The first people invited to see JesusChrist then were those right on the margins of society. This meansthat the new covenant does not require complicated rituals in orderfor us to encounter God - all are welcome to gaze in wonder uponthe Christ child. All are welcome to shout great hymns of praise.Glory to God in the highest heaven!

To Ponder

Who would the angels visit today to announce thebirth of Christ? Who are the excluded and marginalised in ourworld?

What is your favourite Christmas carol? Why?

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