Scripture Readings: Isaiah 9.1-6; Titus 2.11-14; Luke 2.1-20
“Let this be a sign to you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger.” – Luke 2.12
Christians celebrate Christmas just after the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere. In nature, daylight imperceptibly lengthens. In the first reading for Christmas a great light dawns on a people in darkness. Birth pushes a baby out of the dark security of a mother’s womb into the shared and challenging world of other people. Mary and Joseph share shelter with farm animals. With Jesus’ birth a life begins that changes the world.
Many people today may identify with how unusual Jesus’ family is. His mother is not married when he is conceived. His mother’s husband is not Jesus’ real dad. His mother is still a virgin, perhaps still a teenager.
The gospel writer Luke wants us hearers of Jesus’ birth story to recognize with the shepherds that this child is good news for the poor. The Son of the Most High is joy to poor shepherds and safe with temporarily homeless parents. It is Caesar’s census that brings so many potential taxpayers to register in Bethlehem that the inn is full. Jesus begin his life in a world without room for him or his parents. It is the child lying in the manger who incarnates the love and life-giving power of the universe, not Caesar, even though his subjects give him the title Augustus, the divine.
What experiences of births do you bring to hearing the Christmas gospel? Where might Jesus be born today to express God’s willingness to identify with the lowest among us?