Celebrating And Pondering
READ: Luke 2:1-20 The Birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:18-25) 1At that time Emperor Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Roman Empire.2When this first census took place, Quirinius was the governor of Syria.3Everyone, then, went to register himself, each to his own hometown. 4Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the town of Bethlehem in Judea, the birthplace of King David. Joseph went there because he was a descendant of David.5He went to register with Mary, who was promised in marriage to him. She was pregnant,6and while they were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have her baby.7She gave birth to her first son, wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger—there was no room for them to stay in the inn. The Shepherds and the Angels 8There were some shepherds in that part of the country who were spending the night in the fields, taking care of their flocks.9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone over them. They were terribly afraid,10but the angel said to them, “Don't be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people.11This very day in David's town your Savior was born—Christ the Lord!12And this is what will prove it to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13Suddenly a great army of heaven's angels appeared with the angel, singing praises to God: 14“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased!” 15When the angels went away from them back into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us.” 16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and saw the baby lying in the manger.17When the shepherds saw him, they told them what the angel had said about the child.18All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said.19Mary remembered all these things and thought deeply about them. 20The shepherds went back, singing praises to God for all they had heard and seen; it had been just as the angel had told them.
CELEBRATING AND PONDERING We’ve just read one of two narratives of Jesus’ birth. Tomorrow, we’ll read Matthew’s account of the visit of the men from the East (“Wise Men” or “Magi”). Joseph and Mary live in Nazareth, which is about ninety miles north of Bethlehem. How does God get them to Bethlehem? God uses the census of a Roman governor to lead Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, Joseph’s hometown and the city of David. There, the Son of God is born in the most unlikely spot in Bethlehem. It’s certainly not fit for a king, but it doesn’t inhibit the heavenly celebration. The angels sing praises to God for what he has done. The angels share the good news with shepherds. After a visit with Jesus, the shepherds can’t contain their excitement and are singing praises to God as they leave. Mary must have been experiencing intense pain and exhaustion from the delivery and the journey from Nazareth, yet her response is significant. “Mary remembered all these things and thought deeply about them” (v. 19). She considers all that has happened and takes it in. She has trusted God’s message through Gabriel and it comes true as the shepherds celebrate around her. May we consider all that God has done in Christ, as we celebrate Jesus’ birth!
PRAYER: Dear Father, you did what you said you would do. You orchestrated your Son’s birth in Bethlehem and the army of angels and shepherds sang about it. Thank you for the Bible that continues to share this incredible story two thousand years later. Just as Mary pondered the things she had heard from the Shepherds, help me to set aside time to reflect upon what you’ve done as I celebrate your birth. Thank you for sending Jesus. Amen.
DIG DEEPER: Spend some time listening to your favorite Christmas songs and think about what God has done by sending Jesus.