December 25, 2020
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
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 guest room available for them.
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 that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, 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 heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Recently I put up one of Mosaic’s “Light Shines in the Darkness” yard signs. Afterward, pulling into the driveway, I noticed sunlight shining through the sign’s lettering. So, I set up a solar backlight to make it visible at night. I especially liked the idea that the light was shining through the sign and not just on it.
Christmas mornings we follow a family tradition. We read Luke 2:1-20, sing a Christmas carol, pray, then open the gifts, all while eating hot, frosted cinnamon rolls – now more leisurely than when our kids were little!
That first Christmas morning dawned on Mary and Joseph, who were more than a tad overwhelmed. The night before had been all but peaceful or silent. Mary had given birth, an ordeal anything but calm, in the least ideal setting. They’d had visitors – scruffy shepherds exclaiming all about a gazillion boisterous angels apparently only they had heard. As they left, the shepherds had made a bunch of noise about all they’d experienced, disturbing the neighbors.
A newborn, his exhausted parents, trampled stable, bothered neighborhood – that was the first Christmas morning.
Little did the world understand that the long-anticipated light was at last shining through the darkness. It was a very dark time – Mary and Joseph were destitute, displaced, about to become refugees from a ruthless king who would declare genocide on their momentary and ancient home of Bethlehem. The Roman foot heavy on the necks of their countrymen, the anticipated Messiah was nowhere to be found — or so most thought.
We too live in dark times. “2020 has been a rough year” – what an understatement! Yet, the light has come! Jesus, the light of the world, has been born. As with that roadside sign, he shines through us all the more brightly the darker the night we encounter.
— Howard N. Kenyon