A virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel: God with us. Matthew 1:23
Collect of Christmas Eve
Good and gracious God, who gave us your son, the
Lord of the universe, wrapped in swaddling clothes,
the Saviour of all, lying in a manger: on this holy
night draw us into the mystery of your love. Join our
voices with the heavenly host that we may sing your
glory on high. Give us a place among the shepherds
that we may find the one for whom we have waited,
Jesus Christ, the Messiah and Lord, who lives and
reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one
God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Collect of Christmas Day
Gracious God, creator and lover of the universe, be born in us again, as you were born long ago. Be born in us as you continue to be born again and again in the words and deeds of faithful people. Be born in us as light, as joy, as peace, as justice. Be born in us so that we may be the body of Christ in this time and this place. Amen.
- Isaiah 9:2-7
- Psalm 96
- Titus 2:11-14
- Luke 2:1-14
- Isaiah 63:7-9
- Psalm 148
- Hebrews 2:10-18
- Matthew 2:13-23
“For today in the city of David a saviour has been born to you who is Christ and Lord.” Luke 2: 1-14
Centuries of hope in God’s promise have come to fulfillment: the Messiah is born!
Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth (Gospel) begins by placing the event during the reign of Caesar Augustus. Augustus, who ruled from 27 B.C.-14 A.D., was honoured as “saviour” and “god” in ancient Greek inscriptions. His long reign was hailed as the PaxAugusta: a period of peace throughout the vast Roman world. Luke very deliberately points out that it is during the rule of Augustus, the saviour, god and peace-maker, that Jesus the Christ, the long-awaited Saviour and Messiah, the Son of God and Prince of Peace, enters human history.
Throughout his Gospel, Luke shows how it is the poor, the lowly, the outcast and the sinner who embraces the preaching of Jesus. The announcement of the Messiah’s birth to shepherds – who were among the most isolated and despised in the Jewish community – is in keeping with Luke’s theme that the poor are especially blessed of God.
“Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place which the Lord has made known to us.” Luke 2: 15-20
Typical of Luke’s Gospel, it is the shepherds of Bethlehem – among the poorest and most disregarded of Jewish society who become the first messengers of the Gospel.
From the Christmas story in Luke’s Gospel, we have a romantic image of shepherds as gentle, peaceful figures. But that manger scene image is a far cry from the reality: The shepherds of Biblical times were tough, earthy characters who fearlessly used their clubs to defend their flocks from wolves and other wild animals. They had even less patience for the pompous scribes and Pharisees who treated them as second and third-class citizens, barring these ill-bred rustics from the synagogue and courts.
And yet it was to shepherds that God first revealed the birth of the Messiah. The shepherds’ vision on the Bethlehem hillside proclaims to all people of every place and generation that Christ comes for the sake of all of humankind.
The humility and selflessness of Jesus that will be the centrepiece of his ministry and mission as the Messiah are first seen in his simple birth among the poor. The true miracle of Christmas continues to take place in the Bethlehem’s of our hearts. In the emptiness of our souls, God forgives us, reassures us, exalts us, elates us, loves us.
Christmas is more than a birth of a child; it is the beginning of the Christ event that will transform and re-create human history, a presence that continues to this day and for all time.
In Jesus, the extraordinary love of God has taken our “flesh” and “made his dwelling among us.” In his “Word made flesh,” God touches us at the very core of our beings, perfectly expressing his constant and unchanging love.
You can download a copy of the Pew Sheet hereChristmas-2019