“And there were shepherds in the same country abiding in the field, and keeping watch by night over their flock. And an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone round them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people: for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this is the sign unto you: Ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased.”
Luke 2:8-13 American Standard Bible
The Judaic Hanukkah celebrates God’s unending interest in keeping his Covenant with the people of Israel, and his light in our world. So does Christmas when God came to Earth in the form of his only Son to experience the full range of what mortal human beings must contend with. God’s light is the light of the world. No darkness however conceived, no matter how evil, can shut out that light. No amount of incivility in our culture, no amount of greed on Wall Street or death in Egypt, Afghanistan, or elsewhere. Whatever the Devil, that force or being in contention with the good that God is has in store for us it cannot defeat this light. The great prophet Isaiah bore witness to the coming of a great light. Not only one that saved the nation of Israel, but that would save all humanity for all time to come.
With Jesus’ ministry on this Earth and his death for us on a Roman cross the salvation of each one of us is given as a free gift of God’s grace. The greatest of all stories begins with Christ’s birth in Bethlehem just over two thousand years ago. Our creator’s heavenly time frame is to view that period as barely a wink of his eye. The eternal nature of this gift is contained within the great I Am: God eternal. That is the Alpha and the Omega in the Greek. And when we say Merry Christmas to one another it should be with the full realization that it is a gift that is presented to us every single day of our existence. All we need to do is open it via our hearts. Just let God know that he’s in charge and to ask for his help in moving forward in following his son, Jesus the Christ, the Messiah.
Just imagine that moment for the Shepherds in the fields watching their flocks in the hours of darkness. To hear the Angelic host proclaim the Gospel to them. They could be forgiven if some of them figured they had gotten a bad flask of wine or some stale bread as Dickens would write so much later in A Christmas Carol. But this story is even better because it is real. God can do that: the miraculous. It is an open rebuke to our cynical world. Christians over the world rejoice in that!
Merry Christmas! May God’s great light be with you however it comes into your life.