Friday, December 24, 2010
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!" Luke 2:1-14
Since I was born on Christmas Eve, my family always has to regal me with stories about that Christmas. Christmas Eve was a Saturday and Christmas Day was a Sunday. My Dad, a Navy Chaplain, was due on board 7 different vessels in the fleet for services, along with several other services at the base chapel. My siblings were held from celebrating Christmas until my Mom and I got home from the hospital. In some ways everyone was put out. In other ways I was a very real reminder of the first Christmas. A humble little family a long way from home. They never let me not hear about it, as if I had control over when I was born.
Later today, we will rehearse the story of the coming of Jesus into the world. We will sing carols and light candles as the Incarnate one, the light of the world is in our midst. The fragile, dependent bundle of love, would be come the redeemer and healer of the world. Everything we do this day is a reminder of that first Christmas when God became living flesh, as one of us, vulnerable and helpless, so that we might know God's love in every dark corner of our lives.
Today as we celebrate as a family and as a community, I want to remember how important it is to tell the story - the story of the challenge and the angels, the fear and the thrill - and all that is in-between. For God is with us, in the midst of us, renewing us and making us again as children of the living God.