Tuesday 25 December 2012

Bible Book:

“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’” (v. 15)

Luke 2:1-20 Tuesday 25 December 2012


On the day when we celebrate the coming of Christ into theworld, our reading shows us how Luke has used material in hisGospel to make clear that he sees the incarnation to be an eventthat rights social wrongs, that lifts up the humble and the poor,and topples those who are in unjust power over others. Within thepassage we see two examples of this:

  • There is the account of how Emperor Augustus became unwittinglyinvolved in the scheme of God to arrange for Christ's birth inBethlehem to fulfil Old Testament prophecy. Although he had powerto order a registration across the whole Roman empire (described as"all the world" (v. 1)), he did not have greater power than theHoly Spirit who, working through this census arranged for Christ tobe born in the small but important town which had been prophesiedas the place of Messiah's birth eight centuries earlier through theprophet Micah (Micah 5:2).
  • More elaborately, there is the Shepherd's encounter with theangel of the Lord and a "multitude of the heavenly host" (v. 13).This is a rich passage indeed - the scene is set (verse 8), theiremotions are recorded (verse 9) and both the words of the angelsand those of the shepherds are preserved for storytellers and hymnwriters throughout history. The account includes their pilgrimageto the nativity where they are welcomed by a contemplative Mary,and presumably a rather puzzled Joseph. What we should consider ishow surprising it is to see angels praising God beforeshepherds asan audience, rather than simply seeing angels praising. (After all,this is what angels do!) But to choose a bunch of hard-working,often socially-excluded, manual labourers as the audience for thisjoyous occasion - and to invite them to go and see the Messiah forthemselves - is to demonstrate Luke's Gospel's theme once again:God is on the side of the poor.

To Ponder

  • In your area, to whom might God send angels?
  • Who are those who really need to hear "good news of great joy"(v. 10)?
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