In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 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 place for them in the inn.
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 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!” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
– Luke 2:1-14, (15-20) NRSV
…this will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.
– Luke 2:12 NRSV
In this season of love and life we find ourselves in this country struck down by violence and death. African-American men killed on the streets of our cities, police officers murdered in their vehicles of service, immigrant children dying on the edge of our southern border, women brutally beaten to death at the hands of those who are supposed to love and care for them….the list is long, the suffering heartbreaking and life destroying; enough to make us want to give up on life itself. But a sacred sign holds us back; a child wrapped in bands of cloth, lying in a manger. It is a sign of God’s love for us, all of us.
A child comes to show us the way out of the darkness of violence and death. The beloved child of God, Emmanuel, God with us, breaks the darkness all around us. With the very light of God, he comes with love and truth. The mighty truth is that we are all of sacred worth in the heart of God. The love born among us calls us to love one another, as God loves us.
God who is with us has seen the failure of our love and truth, and beckons us once again to the manger where the Christ Child is born full of hope. The public commentators are right. We find ourselves in a situation we cannot fix. The mayors of Ferguson and New York City cannot fix it. Those who protest cannot fix it, we cannot fix it in our homes. We are not without hope, however. The love and truth we receive from the Christ Child is able to fix our broken world, mend it, and even make it anew! He does it through us though……
My prayer for the people of the California-Pacific Conference, of The United Methodist Church, of the Church universal, and for all of God’s children on this Christmas is that we would welcome the Christ Child to come and be born in us and through us fix our broken and hurting world as we live in His love and truth.
God’s peace be with us.
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño
Los Angeles Episcopal Area Resident Bishop
The United Methodist Church