December Reading from The Message
It is inevitable. You will hear Luke 2 recited in church this month. For good reason, it concisely and clearly details the birth of Jesus. And who is it we relate to most? Mary or Joseph? Rich wise men? Or is it the shepherds? Everyday people who are brought in to witness the miraculous and can’t help sharing the good news!
Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.
6-7 While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.
8-12 There were shepherds camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
13-14 At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:
Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
15-18 As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the shepherds talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the shepherds were impressed.
19-20 Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The shepherds returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!
A Place in Heaven’s Choir
The prayer of the angels joins what originates in heaven with what takes place on earth, the first intimation we get of Jesus’ instructive prayer in Luke 11:2—“on earth as it is in heaven” (nkjv). The angels’ prayer puts us in the company not only of the communion of saints, as Zachariah’s prayer does, but of the whole company of heaven.
However earthbound we feel, however humdrum and mundane our work is (shepherding in that society was equivalent to bagging groceries in ours), our prayers give us a place in a choir that expresses all the melodies and harmonies that heaven comprises.
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