25 December 2019Luke 2:1-20
'To you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour ...' (v. 11)
Psalm: Psalm 110
The good news tells of Jesus’s birth: the long-awaited Saviour from the line of King David has come. The setting for the story is as large as the Roman Empire of the time and takes place against the backcloth of secular administrative events (vs. 1-2). The background of the story is Micah 5:2-5.
But the focus of the story is not at all grand or powerful. Mary, shamefully, was pregnant before her marriage (v. 5). Jesus was born in an animal shelter, excluded from human society; and cradled in a manger (v. 7). The news of his birth was given first to shepherds: poor and marginal people whose work requirements made them the butt of criticism because they could not play a normal part in family or religious life.
But shepherds were actually ambiguous people. Some of the great ones in Israel’s past had been shepherds (Moses and David). And was not God a Shepherd to the people? So the Bethlehem shepherds not only receive a sign from the angels; they are themselves a sign – of the marvellous becoming visible through the marginal. The truth of God is that wonders of divine grace may be discerned in situations of shame and humiliation.
Christmas Day is like Easter Sunday. They are definitive examples of God revealing love and creative life where no one would expect it. They fracture the self-important but fear-bound expectations of our everyday life and bring out of the darkest and least promising places, and among the lowest and the least, a miraculous release of God’s own healing life, promising justice and peace for all.
Unsurprisingly, God’s gift of joy and peace on earth evokes the praise of God. It sings throughout the universe (vs. 10, 14, 20).
Mary ponders such extraordinary perspectives on what is happening to her and around her (v. 19). She is a model to us all.
- Are you able to find times of genuine silence today and throughout this busy season, when you can be inwardly still – to reflect on the Christmas story and on what God does in your life and among your family and friends?
- In your experience, what is the most authentic way of ‘glorifying and praising God’, as the shepherds did? What best nourishes such acclamation in your congregation? What changes would enhance the worship of God where you are?