The Gospel Luke 2:1-14
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!”
2100 years ago, maybe a day or two after Mary and Joseph Completed their arduous journey, i to pay some Roman taxes, A terrifying angel appeared to some sheep herders,
Telling them that “the Messiah” had been just been born.
Luke wrote that the child was born in the ancient city of Bethlehem, Where King David was crowned.
Luke knew that David was a warrior King,
but he tells us that Jesus came as a warrior for peace.
2000 years later we still don’t really get that Jesus main gift, Isn’t stuff and power, but is instead,
the peace which passes all understanding.
The Word “peace” is mentioned at least 420 times in the Bible. ii Everyone wants a little bit that of Jesus’ peace,
but few of us really want to do the work that it requires.
In this dangerous world, we must prepare for conflict. That we know how to do. But how do we prepare for peace?
The Jesus movement had a rather modest start.
Our Kings may led us into battle,
but in Luke’s Gospel, there no Kings — only shepherds!
The Jesus movement had a rather modest start.
But Jesus’ peace building work continues every day. Jesus’ light still shines.
His Holy Work is mostly not about Kings or Presidents, Governors or Mayors, or even the organized Church.
His work is the work of the people iii — it is our work — the Good Samaritans iv — whom Jesus has called to his side.
When we celebrate the Christmas Story,
We tend to think about Jesus, humbly born, of a Virgin, But still, a King and the Son of God,
Yet, if Christmas is going to matter at all,
We must also see Jesus, as a human being. One of us. As fierce and as passionate as any Mother or Father, Fighting for their family.
The Powers in his day didn’t crucify Jesus because he came to save us from our sins.
They killed Jesus not as God, but because they saw him, as a man, with courage and authority,
Who pushed back against them, and
their abuse and misuse, of worldly power.
In the humble way that Jesus was born,
and in the much more humble way that he died,
Jesus is the perfect model of sacrificial humility.
That is who we, that claim Jesus, are called to be.
Jesus life, as the Son of God, was and will always be, The perfect model for life as Christian servants:
…. Not first for ourselves … But for others. v
The Devil will always be sniffing around in the shadows. Our world will always be threatened by darkness.
We must choose Jesus’ Holy Light.
Christmas is about Jesus’ journey into our world —vi Christmas is about following him,
and moving forward in new ways, and in new directions. Christmas is about being whoever we’ve been called to be.
Christmas is not about worldly peace, or contentment. Christmas is about all of us stepping out of our comfort zones, as One People…one Church … One Kingdom.
Let’s choose to stand with our God and His Son.
Let’s choose to be a light in the darkness.
Let’s live Christmas, every day.
i See the comments by Fr. Peter Vasko, a Catholic priest and director of the Holy Land Foundation, “bandits, pirates of the desert and robbers” were common hazards along the major trade routes like the one Joseph and Mary would have traveled on. See, “A Long, Cold Road to Bethlehem”, Dec. 23, 1995, https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1995-12-23-me-17102- story.html, citing the Religion News Service
ii In Luke Jesus is proclaimed as the one who brings “peace on earth”. The Hebrew word for peace, šālôm, is usually translated in the Septuagint as the Greek word, eirēnē. “Shalom” often connotes a sense that things are settled because they have reached completeness, fulfillment or wholeness (although it can also refer to the peace which follows a military victory). The Greek leans more towards the sense of security, and well being or, that is reflected in the absence of conflict. In Luke Jesus is proclaimed as the one who brings “peace on earth”.
iii In Greek λειτουργία or λῃτουργία, leitourgia, to work of the people. From λαός / Laos, “the people” and the root ἔργο / ergon, “work”. Notably the “people” referred then were the elite, whereas now we understand the phrase to speak to all of us.
iv He was on the Road to Jericho, not the road to Bethlehem. But still, an arduous and exhausting journey.
v But we must choose who we will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15.
vi as dangerous then as it is now.