Monday, December 25, 2006
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 he highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
Fanfare fit for kings accompany the birth of Jesus. But the angels don't wake up the nobles or the high priest. They choose shepherds.
Gabriel announced Jesus' conception to Mary calling him "great, Son of the Most High," heir to the throne of David. On the night of his birth the angels were just as full of awe: "a Savior is born, he is Christ the Lord."
Then for the rest of his thirty-three years of life on earth, Jesus began a path of descent. He championed oppressed people, those who were avoided at all costs by righteous Israelites. He lived from hand to mouth. His disciples were rough, uneducated men. Jesus avoided glory, and when it came to him anyway he consistently glorified his Father. Finally he was killed.
We don't deserve Jesus, of course. Didn't then, don't now. But if I let him he will teach me to look for his descending way and follow it. He will show me how to share his suffering, his death, and his new life. He will show me something of how God sees the world.
Holding Jesus today, baby so small and soft, listening to his gentle breathing, there is little sense of this future. Except ... the angels sang to shepherds, not to kings.
Thank you Jesus for letting me hold you today. You'll soon be holding me, as you pour your presence into the world.