Luke 2:1-20

             In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered.  This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.  All went to their own towns to be registered.

             Joseph 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.  He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 

            While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.  And 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.

             In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”

             And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,  “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

             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.”  So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 

            When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.  But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.

            The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

            This could be the best known and most beloved passage of scripture in the Christian canon.  It inspires us over the centuries.  The journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, no room in the inn, the manger crib, the shepherds and angels, all speak to us of vital truths about ourselves and our God. 

            God is active and involved in the most mundane and inconvenient events of life – like tax collection, hard journeys, bureaucratic nuisances and the birth of babies.  Into these events come powerful encounters with God with the assurance, “Do not be afraid; for see, I am bringing you good news of great joy for all people…” In this is the invitation to participate in saying and living: “Glory to God in the   highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

            We stand at a powerful moment and in the presence of a powerful God, in our own lives, in the life of the church, and in the history of the world.  Let us “not be afraid,” and let us give “glory to God.”

O God, you cast out fear and inspire praise

in the coming of your Son Jesus Christ.

Now make of us fearless, praise-filled people

as we receive him once again into our world.

 

Rev. Dr. William B. Allen

 West Virginia Regional Minister Emeritus

Regional Minister – Christian Church in Pennsylvania

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