Scripture Text: Luke 2: 1-14 (Christmas Eve)
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
8In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
It’s finally here, this night of nights. The Light for which we’ve waited and journeyed toward peers into the darkness and the world is changed forever. We love this story. Most of us could probably recite it from memory. And, yet, the story may not be EXACTLY the way we think. It’s not like there was someone with a video camera following them around that night. Only two of the canonical Gospel writers even tell the story and they tell it very differently. The non-canonical Gospel According to James tells it in more detail but the birth takes place in some sort of cave. (But, in all honesty, where did you actually read about a stable?) The same account also brings in a midwife, which, when you think about it, makes a whole lot of sense. So, no, I’m not trying to tear down your much-beloved story. The truth is, it’s not about the story; it’s about the birth. It’s also about the Light. It’s about the Light of God coming into the world, however that may have happened.
This is the story of Light. It’s the Light that has always been there, the light that was created so long ago. It’s the light that led people home over and over again. But it was always a light that was hidden in a cloud or shrouded on a mountain or even set in the promise of a bow in the clouds. But this night, this story, tells of Light not shining onto the earth but coming into the earth, mingling with us and giving us life. This is the night that our story becomes the story of Light.
The Bible is not about people trying to get to God or get to the Light; it’s about the story, the story of God. And this part of it, this chapter that we read and relive tonight, this holy night is not the climax of the story; it is a new chapter, a new beginning. 19th century American author and pastor Henry Van Dyke once asked “And now that this story is told, what does it mean? How can I tell? What does life mean?” And then he answered himself by saying, “If the meaning could be put into a single sentence, there would be no need of telling the story.”
This is the night of the story of God coming out of the darkness and out of the shadows and showing us what we could not see before. The Light is beginning to dawn. It’s not a new light. But this time, the heavens themselves spilled into the earth so that the story would become ours. This is the story of Light. It’s also the story of us. So, what comes next? Go into the Light…and follow God to write your story.
To be continued…
I cannot create the light. The best I can do is put myself in the path of its beam. (Annie Dillard)
Grace and Peace,