Luke 2: 1–7
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have the picture of Jesus’ birth
in my head: a manger filled with hay, Mary and Joseph watching over
the baby in his swaddling clothes. Light streams from the baby, and
the animals’ peaceful faces loom from the shadows. It’s a beautiful
image, but Luke’s account sets it against darker elements.
Israel was under Roman occupation, and the emperor’s demand for a
census brought that sharply to the fore. Jesus was not born into
freedom. For his parents this meant hardship. The forced journey of
ninety miles must have been a struggle, late in pregnancy. The story
acknowledges that Joseph and Mary were not yet married, and then
comes the final twist. No room in the inn, so that tiny, vulnerable baby
ended up in the feeding-trough.
Yet the trauma led to the angels singing glory and promising peace at
the birth of a Saviour, Christ the Lord. And Luke’s Gospel is full of
moments like this, when seeming disaster turns to unexpected joy.
This Christmas, it is my prayer that in all the upheaval of this
pandemic, we can know the unchanging joy of God’s love, born afresh
in our world.
as we wait for Christmas Day to dawn,
remind us that you are Emmanuel, God-with-us, every day.
Clear our vision to look beyond the shadows and see your light.
Open our hearts to move beyond fear and despair
and experience your love.
And help us to share the joy and peace of Christmas
and the good news of Jesus.