Draw Near to One Another
Precarious Passage by Lisle Gwynn Garrity
So now it’s Christmas. I hope your celebration will include a moment to say thank you to God for the gift of love we have in Jesus, the baby of Bethlehem who grew to be the savior of the world. Today’s e-votional reminds us that the gift was given amid chaos and trouble. Yet even in those conditions, the love of God breaks through and offers hope and strength. May we be renewed in that love to greet the challenges of our time with courage and grace. The entire staff and I wish you a Merry Christmas.
Reverend Louise Westfall
Luke 2:1-14, (15-20)
2 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph 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. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And 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. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah,[a] the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host,[b] praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”[c]
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.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
From the Artist
Returning to the Christmas story this year, I am reminded of how Christ’s birth occurs in the midst of chaos, displacement, and lowly conditions. Born into the backdrop of Roman political power and social control, Jesus is an ironic Messiah. His birth is stripped of the status and wealth you might expect for a prince, and saturated with the characteristics of yet another common baby born on the streets and placed in a feeding trough.
The divine breaks through sweat, blood, straw and mud. Good news comes to low-wage sheep-herders during their night shift, on the edge of town. Where can’t God go? Where won’t God go? The Christmas story holds this answer: nowhere. As we’ll soon remember, not even death can limit God’s power.
In this image, I imagined Mary and Jesus as ancient world refugees, displaced and on the move. And yet, no matter where they go, God’s light goes with them, encircling them with care.
Draw Near to God in Prayer
In quiet contemplation, look at the image above, reflecting on how the imagery illuminates what you find in the scripture and artist’s statement. Conclude with a silent or spoken prayer to God.