Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Morning Cup of Tea: The Birth of Christ

Good morning! What a beautiful, chilly Lord's day it is. Today we begin chapter two of Luke, and verses 1through 20, I think, are among the most well known in all of the bible. In the month of December, especially the Sunday before if not Christmas Eve or Christmas Day itself, preachers use this passage as part of their message. Parts of it are quoted in Christmas specials, including Charlie Brown Christmas, where Linus, the young theologian, quotes the passage in answer to Charlie Brown's question, Isn't there anybody who knows the real meaning of Christmas?
  The telling of Joseph and Mary going to Bethlehem to be taxed, no room at the inn and delivering the babe in a manger, then shepherds coming to see for themselves the baby whose birth had been announced to them by angels, is indeed a beautiful one. Although we do not know the true date of Christ's birth (the bible only alludes to the time of year in that shepherds were still outside in the fields at night with their sheep so it had to have been a warmer season, and an early pope decided that the catholic church would celebrate December 25 as the birth of Christ in order to sanctify a pagan holiday) this is the time most of the world even thinks of his birth. 
  While I think personally there is nothing wrong with celebrating Christ's birth, or keeping Christ in Christmas, I think that sometimes too much emphasis is put on the birth, and not enough on his mission here on earth:to fulfil the old covenant and to establish the New covenant by dying on the cross and being resurrected three days later.  While we are not told in the bible that we should celebrate his birth, we are instructed to memorialize his death and resurrection on every first day of the week (Sunday) : Jesus himself established it Mark 14:22. 
  But going back to the passage in Luke, Mary is with her husband, traveling while pregnant. Even though we have cars and planes and such today, we know that it is still very uncomfortable traveling for long periods of time while in the family way. The inns, if there were more than one in the city of Bethlehem, are all full and the only place they can find to rest is where the animals are kept. But it's clean, and with all those animals, it was most likely fairly warm. She gave birth to her first son there, and shepherds come, telling how angels had given them the news of his birth. I think any of us who has given birth know the feelings that swirl through our minds during this time-- excitement, wonder, joy, sometimes fear, can I really take care of a child properly? what if I don't know what I'm doing?, that sort of thing. And Mary herself has the added knowledge that Gabriel the angel told her how special her son would be. That angels would spread the glad tidings on the night it happened is wondrous. Her heart had to be full to nearly bursting with praise and thoughts.
 Have a wonderful day.

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