Covid Christmas

Luke 2:9-12 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the  glory of the Lord shone around them; and they… | A christmas story, Lds  art, Bible pictures

“She wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough” Luke 2:7

This will be the world’s first Covid Christmas. Instead of families driving and flying across the land to spend a precious weekend or week together, sharing those special moments around the table that is laden with bowls and platters of all our favorite foods, we shall be limited to another couple or, depending on your state, a maximum of seven people.

It’s not fair, we think, after all, it’s our own family and we wear masks and keep social distances. The fear of spreading this virus has ruined the most special time of the year. 

But has it? Has it really? Or are we like a child, pouting because we can’t get our way?

Although not every family celebrates the birth of Christ as the central focus of Christmas, any family considers this a special, loving, hopeful time of year. An opportunity to come together with friends and family. For some, a time to take food to others less fortunate, sharing delicious plates and bowls of nourishment in the name of love; the name of Christ.

The actual birth of Christ seems to have been less than festive with less than perfect circumstances. God decided His Son, the Messiah, the Savior of the world, should be born in a stable, in a feeding trough, in anonymity. And, in keeping with God’s often mysterious ways, He sent an angel to announce Christ’s birth to a few shepherds out in a field. 

Imagine, if you will, a few isolated men, watching over their flocks, accustomed to a solitary existence, perhaps sitting around a fire cooking dinner when this happened, “Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified!”

Scared out of their wits, they hear the angel say, “Don’t be afraid, for I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: today a Savior who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”

As the shepherds are processing what the angel said, God dazzles them further, “Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors!

These men had never seen such a magnificent display of God’s power and yet, judging by their response, it seems they had processed this astonishing event well.

“When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.

“They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby lying in the manger. After seeing him the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.” ~Luke, Chapter 2

Today, more than 2,000 years after Christ’s birth, God is still speaking to His followers and giving us encouragement, even if it is anonymously out in a field somewhere. Covid has changed most of the world but cannot alter our faith in Christ the Savior. Let us celebrate His birth this Christmas.

Christ Is Born!

“The Savior, yes the Messiah, has been born this day” ~Luke 2:11

December 18, 2021

“The kids were so good in the Christmas pageant this year and it was so cute watching Sue and Ken’s little one play the part of baby Jesus,” said Claire.

“Yes, that was great. And Jimmy as one of the shepherds looked so good,” said Paul.

“Well, until his beard began to come off,” Claire chuckled.

And so it goes in children’s books and church plays; the baby Jesus, shepherds, scattered animals and three wise men carrying gifts, coming together in a makeshift manger scene. As the old saying goes, “What’s wrong with this picture?”

 What’s wrong is the message. If you watched this pageant in your church what were your feelings? Did the child actors convey the importance of Christ’s birth to the audience? No! These children’s plays bring parental feelings of love for the actors, pride in their achievements and a little humor along the way. So what’s wrong with that you may ask? 

 Without exception, the birth of Jesus Christ is the most important human birth in the history of the world! His birth, the birth of our Savior, should bring jubilation, joy, amazement. The sanctuaries should resound with Hosannah’s and praise the Lord, our Savior is born. How did Luke describe the announcement to the shepherds?:

 “That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

 “Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

 If we are to stage a reenactment of this unique historical moment, should’t we also include the angel Gabriel’s meeting with Mary before she became miraculously pregnant as found in Luke 1:26-38? What must that have been like for Mary? The angel Gabriel sent by God to announce she would become pregnant and give birth to the Son of the Most High. 

 “Greetings favored woman! The Lord is with you! Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

 Mary asked the angel, “But how  can this happen? I am a virgin.” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and He will be called the Son of God.”

When Joseph discovered Mary was pregnant, how did he react? His reaction is described in Matthew 1:18-25. “This was how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. His mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they were married, she found out that she was going to have a baby by the Holy Spirit. Joseph was a man who always did what was right, but he did not want to disgrace Mary publicly; so he made plans to break the engagement privately. While he was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived. She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus—because he will save his people from their sins.”

Now all this happened in order to make come true what the Lord had said through the prophet, “A virgin will become pregnant and have a son, and he will be called Immanuel”, which means, “God is with us”. Prophecy given 700 years prior to Jesus’ birth as recorded in Isaiah 7:14. So when Joseph woke up, he married Mary, as the angel of the Lord had told him to. But he had no sexual relations with her before she gave birth to her son. And Joseph named him Jesus.

Lord God we praise your name. Through the virgin birth of your Son, Jesus, our Redeemer, you have saved our souls and forgiven our sins. We celebrate His birth and rejoice in our favor. We are jubilant and thankful that you love us so dearly you’ve sent Jesus to take upon Himself the death sentence brought about by our sins, as only He could do. Without earning it, simply by our proclamation of faith, you’ve cleansed our hearts and saved our souls. Let us celebrate the birth of our Savior whose obedience, even to his death on the cross, opened the door for our eternal forgiveness.

 Children’s Christmas pageants are lovely, delightful, tender and filled with childlike innocence. They should always be on the annual calendar. But they should not be our primary example of the most important birth in the history of our world. Can we ever say Thank You enough?