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. . .’ (Luke 2:9-11)
One of my favorite stories is the story called The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. It is a delightful tale by Barbara Robinson. The back cover describes the story this way:
The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world. They lied and stole and smoked cigars (even the girls) and talked dirty and hit little kids and cussed their teachers and took the name of the Lord in vain. So it surprised just about everybody when they decided to take part in the town’s Christmas pageant.
The Herdmans had never heard of the Christmas story, but the way they interpreted it, you’d think the story of Jesus came right out of the F.B.I. files. (They called the Wise Men a bunch of dirty spies). It was a Christmas pageant to remember.
What I personally love about this little book is the incredible way in which the story of the birth of Jesus can transform lives.
As we walk through the season of Christmas, it is easy for us to take for granted this story that we are so familiar with. The danger when we take it for granted is that we miss the incredible love that God shows us in the birth of Jesus. And this birth is not simply about the birth of a child (as wondrous as any birth is). This birth is really about celebrating God's commitment to humanity to become one of us, to dwell in our midst.
In the church, we have called this gift the incarnation. I am convinced that if we take the incarnation seriously, it means that God is in our midst still today. That is what we celebrate. It is a love that can be transforming for us.
I hope that this Christmas, you will be able to pause long enough to be touched and amazed by God's gift of love, as seen in the birth of Jesus. May you see the face of God looking at you, in all of the faces you see on this day.
Loving God, thank you for coming to us in the many ways that you enter into our presence. On this day, we are so grateful for the birth of Jesus. May we allow Jesus to be born in us anew, that we may be mindful of carrying you with us, wherever we may wander on this day. Let your Spirit living in us and move through us to touch your world. In the hope that Jesus offers us, Amen