Readings for Christmas
Peace be with you!
The past few weeks have been hectic. I have been busy looking for the perfect gifts for friends and family. Then I had to have my personal caregiver wrap all of the gifts, which ended up being a three-day job. I also send way too many Christmas cards and packages to out-of-state people. Of course, there are a few holiday parties and lunches with friends squeezed in there as well. It is no wonder I am tired, stressed, and plagued by a nagging feeling that I am forgetting something. Can you relate?
We are not alone. The first Christmas was chaotic too. Mary and Joseph have a lot going on now that Mary is pregnant. Mary had travelled to see Elizabeth who was experiencing her own miraculous pregnancy, expecting a child in her old age (Luke 1:36). Just as Mary is ready to give birth to Jesus, she and Joseph have to rush to Bethlehem in Judea to be registered in the census (Luke 2:1). After travelling so much, I wonder if Mary had time to prepare the nursery or if the baby shower gifts were just thrown in a room with the hope she would have time to organize them upon her return. And what did her doctor think of all this traveling?
Then Joseph and Mary get to Bethlehem, and all of the hotels are filled up. The census is a great excuse for a giant family reunion. I bet Mary had a few choice words for Joseph: “I am due any day with God’s baby, and you drag me to Bethlehem so we can register for this stupid census. Oh, and you forgot to reserve a room. … Huhmmm Joseph, you better find a place to stay quick because my water just broke. … No, I am delivering God’s son in a tavern. … A stable will be warm with all the animals. Why don’t you ask the farmer??? And hurry Joseph!” I am sure Mary was in a full panic attack as she started giving birth to her first son without her mother or a midwife.
In the midst of this hectic time, Mary delivers a baby boy named Jesus. And an angel appears to shepherds announcing the arrival of “a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11). The shepherds decide to go to Bethlehem and see the child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.
Suddenly, the busyness of the world melts away as the young couple treasures the first moments of their son’s life, a baby given to them by God. Then out of nowhere shepherds (not viewed in the society of the day as honorable individuals) show up announcing Jesus is the Savior, the Messiah, the Lord. Everyone who heard the shepherds’ proclamation were amazed, including Mary who treasured these moments in her heart (Luke 2:19).
The world already starts changing with Jesus’s arrival. An unwed, virgin teenage girl becomes a mother to God’s son. An honorable Jewish man becomes a step-father before he is married. Shepherds—not the venerable Jewish priestly class—announce the baby is the Messiah, not the Jewish priests. Things that would never be sanctioned are now celebrated and lifted up. The lame and the blind who were outcasts and not associated with in the Jewish community will be healed of their afflictions, and Jesus will call them to be disciples. The sinners who were looked down upon by the Jewish priestly class will be forgiven. Jesus will break bread with these outcasts and bring them into the light. And it all starts with a baby in manger.
As you go about your hectic Christmas festivities, take a few moments to hear the shepherds’ proclamation announcing the arrival of “a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” Let it catch you off guard. Ponder what the arrival of the Messiah means in today’s world. Feel the amazement of the arrival of the Messiah.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for amazing us with the arrival of the Messiah. Help us to treasure the shepherds’ proclamation. Make us slow down and ponder the true meaning of Christmas. Be with those who are alone or are mourning the loss of a love one. Thank you for the blessing of gathering with friends and family this Christmas. Amen.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- What does Christmas mean to you?
- What is your favorite Christmas tradition?