One of the challenges of reading the Christmas story each year is our familiarity with the text. Each year we turn to Luke and Matthew for the birth narratives, and each year we can be lulled to sleep by the familiarity of words. Yet the Christmas narratives are still scripture, divinely inspired to reveal God’s heart and mind.
Christmas brings the opportunity for followers of Jesus to go deeply into these two passages again and again. They are spoken each year in Christmas pageants and sermons over and over. What if the Holy Spirit--aware we would come to these chapters dozens of times in our lives--filled these verse with revelation of God’s goodness, his providence, and his ways?
Allow me to share with you two insights new to me this year, even after reading these words for forty years.
The community of worship: Luke tells us that after a single angel announced glad tidings of great joy, the host of heaven appeared, singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” I believe part of the message is that heaven is comprised of a community of worship: whatever God does, it is accompanied by communal worship. Praise and adoration go hand in hand with the work of God, and we would do well to remember that in our daily efforts on earth, because we, too, are a part of this community of worship.
The resources of heaven: that night on a Bethlehem hillside, a multitude of the heavenly host was employed to lead a handful of shepherds to the feet of Jesus. One angel would’ve been enough! But in this act I believe God demonstrates that the resources of heaven are always available to lead people to Christ. Have we called upon the resources of heaven, or do we rely on own own?
For this week’s meditation I’d like to suggest we come to the Christmas narratives as God’s inspired word, which describe not only the events of His birth, but also contain revelation for us to order our world today.