Welcome to the holiest night of the year…
and yet at first glance, it might seem ordinary.
Once upon a time, the entire world was covered in darkness that allowed hopelessness, injustice, corruption, oppression, misery and hate to flourish within its shadows.
Until our story begins with a young, pregnant, engaged but not yet married woman named Mary traveling with Joseph to Bethlehem per government census. They were Israelites, whose land was occupied by the Romans.
As the Gospel according to Matthew wrote, Joseph had reasonably questioned Mary regarding her condition and claim to not engaging in the necessary activities with him or another man. Joseph came to believe Mary after an angel appeared in his dream assuring him to take Mary as his wife and shared God’s plan for redeeming all humankind and the entire creation. But, I imagine that doubters remained who whispered to one another about Mary, Joseph, and this baby. I also imagine God did not send an angel to each doubter.
Upon their arrival in Bethlehem, the couple is not able to find a room for the night and I would imagine with a little hesitation but with gratitude accepted the offer to stay in a stable.
In the fields that surrounded Bethlehem, shepherds were watching their flocks as was normal.
I imagine that the night sky was darker than dark polka-dotted with beautiful but distant stars offering little light for them and their sheep.
But on this ordinary night, God would use these ordinary people, place, and event for a holy drama.
Mary gave birth to her son, Jesus, in that humble stable.
Jesus, a baby boy, was the long awaited Messiah.
Jesus, a baby boy, was the WORD present at the creation of the entire cosmos.
Jesus, a baby boy, was the LIGHT come into the world.
Jesus, a baby boy, was God Incarnate… God in human flesh and bone.
And yet, Jesus was born in a humble stable not a palace.
And yet, Jesus was born to a young woman engaged to a carpenter from a small, small town not a family of wealth, power, or authority.
The angels had to share the news… Jesus, the Savior of the entire world, is born TONIGHT.
But, who should the angels share this news?
Those shepherds in the fields were an odd, but charmingly ordinary, choice. The shepherds were often considered to be the lowly, the rift raft, who the polite society would cross the road to avoid.
Yet, these shepherd were the first to hear of Jesus born in Bethlehem.
Understandably, the shepherd first reacted in fear but then curiosity seized them.
The shepherds followed the LIGHT of a single, brightly shining star that rested upon that humble stable providing shelter to Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus.
The Magi, or Wise Men, were following the LIGHT of that same, brightly shining star, but their caravan would arrive to the celebration approximately two years late.
Despite the bright star, this baby Jesus, was a LIGHT that shone brighter.
Jesus is the LIGHT of Hope, Peace, Joy, and LOVE shining brightly into our world causing the darkness of hopelessness, injustice, oppression, misery, hate, and sin of all sort to flee for the remaining dark corners to avoid exposure by HIS light.
It is on this holy night that we recall the LIGHT born into our world.
It is on this holy night that we remember the WORD born into creation.
It is on this holy night that we celebrate God born into human flesh and bone.
This holy night should stir within our minds, hearts, and souls the desire to shout from the mountain tops and everywhere that Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the WORD, and the LIGHT has been born among the ordinary for our sake.
But, we should not merely proclaim it in our words.
We are called to proclaim it by reflecting HIS light of hope, peace, joy, and love to and for all.
Let there be Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love on earth… AND let it begin with us.