The California-Pacific Conference of The United Methodist Church

Christmas 2017

Christmas

Luke 2:1-14

“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the in.” Luke 2:7

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace among those whom he favors!’” Luke 2:13-14

Today is Christmas — the event that all of the Advent season has been leading up to. When you read the story in Luke 2:1-14 there are two clear sections. They are 2:1-7 and 2:8-14. The first section narrates a rather simple tale of the leaders of the day requiring a census that sent Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem right at the end of her pregnancy. And, as babies do, Jesus was born. As you read this there is nothing exceptional: government census, family travel, and the inevitable and natural birth of a child. In contrast, 2:8-14 is a miraculous story of an angel appearing to shepherds — heavenly hosts, a veritable army of angels, divine beings proclaiming the birth of the son of God, the savior of the world! Luke paints a picture of the birth of Jesus as one filled with contrast: a simple birth and a supernatural event!

Perhaps the way Luke presents the story of Jesus’ birth also speaks to the ultimate meaning of Jesus’ birth. In contrast to the simple miracle of a child’s birth, a multitude of angels breaks open the heavens. In contrast to the great and mighty kings of the earth, God sends a tiny child to redeem us. In contrast to the people’s call for a King of the House of David to over throw the Roman Empire, God sends a Prince of Peace. The gospel is full of contrasts. Perhaps that is the message that we who follow the Messiah must keep before us today and in the days ahead. The message that the Christian movement must continue to be a witness that there is a way the world can be, which is in contrast to the way it is.

In the field of art, the artist uses contrast to create interest and to draw the attention to a focal point. On this Christmas day, let us reclaim the message of Christ’s birth and commit to live in a ways that shine with contrasts in this world. May the way we live stir an interest in others, and draw them to a focal point where they see the promise of the divine will be ready to meet the human need.

In closing this devotional series let me say, in contrast to the daily news reports seeming to focus on a despairing world, I pray you have hope born in the promise of the child today. In contrast to the voices we hear that exhibit hearts of hatred, I pray your heart is strangely warmed by the Spirit’s love today. In contrast to feelings of disappointment for what did not take place this past year, I pray you find some joy in knowing God is in moving us into the future creating what still can be. In contrast to the stress of the holiday schedule, I pray you take a pause, and claim some peace in knowing the story of God’s redeeming transforming love in Christ continues.

Prayer: God of all, thank you for the gift of life given new meaning in the birth of Christ. Amen

Rev. John Farley
South District Superintendent
Dean of Cabinet
California-Pacific Conference