Thursday 25 December 2014

Bible Book:

“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.” (vv. 10-11)

Luke 2:1-20 Thursday 25 December 2014

Psalm: Psalm 110


This is perhaps one of the most famous of all passages in theentire Bible, in Britain today. We hear it in church, in schools,on television and radio. But equally familiar are some of theelements of tradition, which play no part in the Gospel narrative.In fact, stripped of these traditional additions, the first part ofthe story in Luke's Gospel is a model of simplicity.

The journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem would have taken at leastfour days, before we begin to take account of Mary's advanced stateof pregnancy. But no details are given to us about how theytravelled (no donkey is mentioned!), or how arduous a journey theymust have had. We are simply told that they went. And no innkeepersare described, either turning them away or finding them a corner ina stable, with clean straw. Rather, we have simply the mention thatthere was "no place for them in the inn" (v. 7). This would notrefer to a hotel as we understand it, but perhaps a room in aprivate house, where people might pay to stay. Mary lays Jesus in amanger, which might have been in the part of the house whereanimals were kept, or maybe in a cave, used for shelter foranimals.

Whatever the detail, we are just given the simplest facts. Marygave birth to a son, wrapped him up and found what she could to actas a crib. A human child was born in obscurity.

But then surprising things ensue. Some shepherds, minding theirown business, receive an unexpected visitor. The angel, accompaniedby the very glory of the Lord, proclaims an event which is far fromhuman or obscure. The child he proclaims is 'Saviour', 'Messiah','Lord'. A redeemer has been given to Israel, in the line of David -in David's very town. A human child, born in obscurity, is at thesame time a child sent from God, with angelic fanfare, to glorifyGod and to bring God's peace.

Happy Christmas!

To Ponder

  • In Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, there are reports of women in labour being turned awayfrom hospitals that are overstretched because of the ebola epidemicor afraid of infection. Some women end up giving birth on thestreets. Those who are lucky survive. Occasionally, so does thebaby. As we remember the birth in makeshift circumstances ofanother child for whom there was no room, what must our responsebe?
  • Shepherds were among society's lowest members. They are livingin the fields, outside the town and outside civic society. Yet itis to them that the angels make their proclamation. Who needs tohear the message of goodwill, of peace and of salvation thisChristmas?
  • The message that is given is one of "good news of great joy".The shepherds go to see the baby and come home "glorifying andpraising God" (v. 20). How are you celebrating today?


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