Luke 2:4-14 How God celebrated Christmas
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
It’s that time of year again. December has come and with it all the joys of Christmas. But what is the real meaning of Christmas? Is it the gifts under the tree, the lights in the windows, the cards in the mail, dinners with family and friends, and shouts of “Merry Christmas” to those who pass us in the streets? Is this really Christmas?
For many people, Christmas is a time of sorrow. They don’t have the extra money to buy presents for their children, family, and friends. Many are saddened at Christmas time when they think of their loved ones who will not be able to come home for various reasons. The true meaning of Christmas is the Savior, the Christ who came to bring healing and deliverance for all who are suffering under the bondage of poverty and who are trapped in their fears and despair. It is a time to share the love of God with those in need.
A manger fit for animals became the birthing room for Christ the King. The joy and fellowship of the common people and the gathering of angels lighted up the dilapidated condition that surrounds the birth of Christ. God loves the shepherds, the pure and the simple at heart; it is like He wanted them to be the first to hear the good news and to celebrate the birth of His Son with Him.
She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn – The Father has determined that Jesus would live an ordinary life and be numbered with commoners and criminals. Hence, Jesus must be born in a state of poverty being exposed to the harsh elements of this world. People carefully choose where they desire their child to be born. For many, only a reputable and up market hospital will do. Because they love their child, they choose the best facilities within their means to birth their child. God love His Son with an infinite love but He chose an animal stable as His birth room. Jesus was born in a forsaken lowly manger in order to identify Him with the weak and poor so that one day He may be a Prince among them.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them – The shepherds are people at the lowest strata of the society. They are well acquainted with hardship accustomed to working under harsh conditions. Though they were lowly in status, nevertheless, they were the first to hear about the birth of the Savior. The shepherds seem to be closest to the heart of God, and He wanted them to be the first to know and to share the joy of this good news.
Keep things simple, it is the people that you choose to share your life with that matter. To God it is the heart that truly matters, and the external form is not important. He loves to share and rejoice with those whose hearts are pure and gracious towards others. Here, we learn a lesson from God as to how we could celebrate meaningfully with people who matter and do without the elaborate parties that serve only to impress. How does God plan to celebrate the birth of His only Son? Just a small gathering of shepherds and a few angels will do.
Live simply and avoid the excesses and the pride of life so that we could identify with the poor. The circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth as well as the social status of His family speaks of God’s willingness to identify with the poverty of life in general. The love of God is clearly displayed in the manner in which Christ was born. His death and suffering on the cross no doubt express His perfect love for humanity. His willingness to identify and journey with the poorest and the despised of society expresses the more subtle side of His love. Although many may be inspired by the grandeur of His resurrection and the display of altruism on the cross, but most will be moved by the genuineness of Christ humility and empathy for the poor. In this society where income gaps between the rich and the poor is increasing, we could do well by living simply and identify with the hardship of the poor.
How do you plan to celebrate and remember your precious moments like your wedding, the birth of a child, festivals and small successes? Most celebrate in order to draw attention to themselves and to feel good. Perhaps, you could consider giving love and aid to those who have little to get by. Christmas is a perfect occasion to offer a kind gesture to those who consider themselves as your opponents.
Dear Lord, I am touched by your genuineness in the way you celebrated the birth of your only Son. Help me to be a genuine person who is concerned for the welfare of others and identify with their weakness. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.