2 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
In today’s Gospel we are told of the joy that surrounded the birth of Jesus! Hopefully the birth of our children was also a joyous event, even if it was not without some anxiety nor faced without some trepidation.
In most cases the birth of a new baby is greeted with the kind of joy we see in today’s gospel…it just may not be as public, with birth announcements restricted to Facebook postings, rather than choirs of angels.
It is a good thing to take time out to celebrate the birth of a new baby, to enjoy the joy of new life, before facing the realities of raising a child; for as we have learned, a child is a big responsibility with…the hard part happens AFTER the birth!
When my daughter was born, there was so much we did not know yet, so much yet to be learned, and so many unexpected events (like the fact that I would soon be raising her as a single father). There was so much to be experienced: many hours of joy and of fun and love, but also many times of trial and struggle, as we sought to meet the challenges of life together, and sometimes…from different places as there were times when my daughter and I were at odds with each other, and times when the fear and worry were too much for me to handle alone (and fortunately I never had to).
However, on the day of her birth all these struggles were in the future, and still unknown…on that day there was only hope, celebration and joy! There was relief that she was born without any major difficulties, and that we were now a family! In the moment of her birth, we could simply enjoy the gift of new life that had come in our midst; marveling at the miracle that we held in our arms.
Hopefully you are spending Christmas, or at least part of the day with your children…even if not, they are not far from your hearts…so today, as we gather together to celebrate the birth of Jesus; whose life would prove to be unsettled, dangerous and complicated…and who probably gave his parents more than a few gray hairs…let us not focus on the trials to come, but on the joy of the moment; in the presence of the miracle of God’s love.
I know that it may not be easy for us to do, because as single parents Christmas, (or any day for that matter) can be busy for us, without much time to rest or enjoy the celebration; however, this is when it is most important to take a moment to put aside our worries and differences for a few hours, and simply let it be…and celebrate the gift of new life given to us in Christ, and shown to us through our children and all those we love, and who love us.
Let us Pray
God, thank you for moments to celebrate…for time taken to appreciate the gift of love that has come into the world and into our lives. Help us to find the time in the midst of our busy day to be still…and know that you are God, and that you are in our midst, laying in a manger; and in that knowledge help us to know your peace and love…so that we can share it with the our children and with the world.