As we awake to this first day of fall, we have an awesome story to read. Luke 2. The Christmas story of Jesus’ birth. A fantastic and familiar story for all of us. Yet as we look at the news showing the destruction of islands, and coastlines, destruction of homes and so many lives lost, destruction of cities from Hurricanes to Earthquakes to more Hurricanes to terrorist attacks, it doesn’t seem like our moods should be happy. It is hard to watch this devastation on TV and know so many are suffering. However, I believe God gave us today’s verse to try to give us peace and hope. We can take a few moments and soak up the words of this special and most important story.
6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
We all have images of this very sweet and tender moment. Yet, as we look at the journey to Bethlehem, it was most likely treacherous and filled with anxiety for Mary and Joseph. Joseph was doing was what right, obeying the law and bringing his wife-to-be across the countryside to be registered. He knew the journey might be difficult, yet he persevered, only to find no room at the Inn. I’m sure at times he was scared and didn’t know what would happen to them. Here he was with Mary who was pregnant. The angel of the Lord visited him. He was following the instructions by taking Mary as his wife. How complicated it may have seemed for him. Yet, he had faith and followed the path God had outlined for him.
After the birth of baby Jesus, they were visited by shepherds and magi, celebrating the birth. Joseph then continued on the path laid out for his family. It was time for Jesus to be consecrated as was part of the Law of Moses. I haven’t always read past the story to appreciate the miracle of Simeon:
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss[d] your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
Another sign from God. Part of the broader plan. Joseph and Mary had to be moved by all that was happening, maybe a little scared, especially when Simeon told Mary that Jesus was destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against. I would have been a bit apprehensive.
Follow Simeon up with Anna, the prophet, who gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. Another sign. I am certain they marveled at all that continued to transpire. As they moved forward with life and raising their son, there were many more events and interactions that occurred, including the story of Mary and Joseph finding Jesus preaching in the temple. We don’t know all the details but another sign of what God had in store for Jesus as our savior.
Coming full circle, I hope as you read Luke 2 today, you take time to reflect on how blessed we are to have been given the story of baby Jesus. It comes during a tumultuous week, maybe for you personally, but also for our nation and for the world. There are angels amongst the ruble such as Simeon and Anna, trying to help others move forward. This Christmas story, along with many others, gives us hope and peace to continue to persevere and believe. It may not give us answers as to why?, but it gives us a quiet sense of peace and calmness. I hope you smile when you read the Christmas story on this first day of fall. Enjoy your day!
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”