Christmas then, Christmas now l Worship

By David Parks, Pastor-Our Savior's Lutheran Church | Dec 27, 2017

The ancient Biblical narratives depicting angelic visitations, shepherds with flocks by night and the adoring Magi from the east all seem quite familiar to many of us.

These time-tested story elements cling to the lines of Christmas carols and Sunday school pageants.

Many of us see them in our imagination and on the holiday cards we give to each other this time of year.

Even though this story has been around for a long time, it is surprisingly contemporary.  The issues back then are still at the center of our headlines today.

Christmas is about a God who identifies with the poor and marginalized, instead of the powerful.

Christmas is about a child born far from home receiving support from the wealthy.  Christmas is about a refugee family finding safety in a hostile country.

Christmas is about a young couple whose lives are turned upside down by the demands of a corrupt empire’s taxation policy designed to favor the rich.

Perhaps most compelling of all is that Christmas is about believing what a woman said about her sexual experience.

She’s not shamed, doubted, blamed or silenced.  Her disclosure is remembered, trusted and appreciated.

It changed the world.

While technology, economics, politics and culture have all changed in so many ways, the Christmas story remains as vital and relevant as ever.

There are lessons to learn by rereading this Biblical story with a lens that goes deeper than pious nostalgia. There are truths here that jump off the page when read with an eye to social justice, to the plight of undocumented persons, to families chased from their homelands and to modern women silenced in the wake of abuse and exploitation.

When King Herod of old lied to save his skin, ordered the slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem and cheated his way to the top, it all seemed like an ancient tale.

Now, this same story looks familiar yet again as we see it played out on the 5 o’clock news.

As the page turns to January 2018, we look back at the marvel of the first Christmas.

We might also look ahead to what our work will be in the Christmases yet to come.

We might even keep in mind our responsibility to advocate for the poor, for children born in desperate circumstances, for undocumented families in this country and for the women we relate to every day.

God is still speaking to us in these ancient narratives.

The circumstances of their first drafting are not unlike the circumstances we see in the community we share now and in the year ahead.

The core of the Christmas story, both then and now, is about a God who identifies with the least, who takes the side of the impoverished and who ends up in a manger nurtured by a woman who would dare to tell the truth.


Comments (1)
Posted by: Alan L Shank | Jan 02, 2018 13:05

I found these comments on Christmas insightful. It made me think of it in a fresh way. Thank you.

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