For the last couple of weeks, if you listen to the radio at all, you most likely have heard a lot of Christmas songs. It is a time of year where millions of people, young and old, religious and not so religious, participate in a holiday that seeks to remind the world of an event from over 2000 years ago, when the Word that was God (John 1:1) “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). For hundreds of years, God’s people spoke of the promise to come, waiting in anticipation for the Messiah. Isaiah prophesied about it, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given…And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). In our readings today, we look back at that historical day, an event that changed the world, as the redemptive work of God took on bodily form as a baby, ushering in the Savior of the world.
Lenny will be doing our first reading today which is found in Luke 1:1-38. Our author Luke is tedious with details, wanting to provide “an orderly account” of things (Luke 1:3). So, the story begins not with Jesus; but instead, John the Baptist’s birth. As you read about it, you realize that his birth, John’s that is, was equally a miracle, especially in the eyes of Zacharias and Elizabeth. John’s arrival was with a purpose, which was to “make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17). It was only six short months later that Mary would hear these words, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus” (Luke 1:31) and “He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). And so it is, “with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37).
The second reading, Luke 1:39-80, will be read by Angel. As the story of Jesus unfolds, we see both Elizabeth (pregnant with John) and Mary (pregnant with Jesus) visit together. When Mary greeted her, “the babe leaped in her womb” (Luke 1:41). Elizabeth, overjoyed by Mary’s presence, says, “But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43). Mary herself is overwhelmed with what God is doing through her, “My soul magnifies the Lord” she says (Luke 1:46). Mary visited for three months, then returns to her home, while Elizabeth gives birth to John. His father, Zacharias, a priest who worked in the temple, has been mute since the announcement of God’s promise that he would have a son (Luke 1:20). His mouth was opened when he said the child name would be John, prophesying about the child to come (Jesus) and his son who “will be called the prophet of the Highest” (Luke 1:76).
Our third and final reading is found in Luke 2:1-40 and will be read by Matthew. God masterfully orchestrates His plan and Jesus is born in the humblest of places, laying Him in the manger (Luke 2:7). The familiar scene continues, as we read of the shepherds in the fields and the announcement from the angel of the Lord, “For there is born to you this day in city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Jesus is soon presented in the temple for circumcision where Simeon announces, “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace…for my eyes have seen Your salvation” (Luke 2:29-30). Anna, an eighty-four-year-old prophetess who also gave thanks to the Lord because of Jesus. Before Jesus was able to utter a single word, He was bringing hope and joy to God’s people. Joy to the world, the Lord has come, let earth receive her king! For to us, sinful man, a Savior is born. Have a blessed holiday.