2 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. (Luke 2: 1-20, KJV)
This is the time for which we have waited. This is the time that makes the world stop, if only for a moment, and say a prayer for peace and light our candle and gather around our Savior. This is the night that we keep and ponder.
Mary and Joseph did not know that first Christmas what their lives would hold. They knew the child that lay in that manger was special, even holy. But it would take time for them to understand and grasp that this tiny child that lay there was God coming into the world. And those Shepherds, out, minding their own business, tending to their flock—what would you have thought when the very glory of the Lord came around? Fear not..ugh oh, we’ve heard that before. That can’t be good. That means that the floor of your life will give way until you can no longer stand where you are. That means that you have to leave the place where you are and begin to journey far. That means that nothing, nothing will ever be the same again.
We cannot live in this manger. Jesus will not be there. So, yes, we have to ponder for a bit. After all, changing life courses is not something to be taken lightly. But soon the child will grow and become what God intends. We must do the same, following Christ into the darkness by the light of a star that will remain with us always—as long as we don’t go back and leave it behind. The people who have walked in darkness have, yes, finally seen a great light. And as we walk, we open our hands to receive what God has in store. The journey ahead will not be easy. It is not for the faint of heart or those that think they can do it by themselves. It is for those that hunger and thirst in the deepest part of their being for the very presence of God. Eat this bread! Drink this cup! Jesus Christ is born today!
Christ is born! God is come! And nothing will ever be the same. Thanks be to God!
Christmas did not come after a great mass of people had completed something good, or because of the successful result of any human effort. No, it came as a miracle, as the child that comes when his time is fulfilled, as a gift of God which is laid into those arms that are stretched out in longing. In this way did Christmas come; in this way it always comes anew, both to individuals and to the whole world. (Eberhard Arnold)
FOR TODAY: Let us go and see this thing that has happened.
Merry Christmas on this Holiest of Nights,