Christmas Day 25.12.12 Luke 2.1-20

23 12 2012

The Birth of Jesus

Luke is the best storyteller in the New Testament, but we have heard this one just too many times.  The preacher’s challenge is to get back to some of Luke’s inspiring freshness.

Luke 2.1-20

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph 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. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And 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.

8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14 ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’

15 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.’ 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Reflection

To help give shape to the reflection here are three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels.

‘Head Questions’

  1. Why does Luke stress the context of the census?
  2. Why shepherds?
  3. Why does Mary, who gave voice to so much in Luke chapter 1, say nothing?

‘Heart Questions’

  1. What feelings are aroused in you by the thought of a birth a long way from home?
  2. Notice that the angels say ‘fear not’. Where is fear in this story?
  3. How do you imagine the shepherds ‘glorifying and praising God’?

‘Hand Questions’

  1. Is there a journey you need to take but you are putting it off because this is not a convenient time for you?
  2. Are you sometimes a messenger angel to others ? If so, do you need to say ‘fear not’ more often?
  3. Notice that no gifts are exchanged in this passage.  Are you able simply to receive the good news and rejoice in it?

Finally

These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you.  That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up, working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands.  Take your time.

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One response

23 12 2012
It always re-creates a visual image in me. « A voice in the wilderness

[…] Christmas Day 25.12.12 Luke 2.1-20 (stephencherry1.wordpress.com) […]

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