December 11, 2020
By now, you have probably set out your Christmas crèche—Mary and Joseph and the infant Jesus in a stable, a couple of shepherds with a sheep or two standing near, and, hovering above, an angel with outstretched arms, representing a “host of heavenly visitors.” A few inches away (or a few feet, depending on the size of your mantel), the Magi and their camel approach.
As we gaze on this beloved scene, we can hear the song of the angels: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom God’s favor rests” (Luke 2:14) The story never grows old; the song never fails to lift our hearts. God has chosen ordinary people, humble shepherds, to receive good news of great joy for all the people: “Today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.” (Luke 2:11)
If I try to make a parallel between the time when the song was first sung and today, two things come to mind. First, the world into which Jesus was born was tragically divided—religiously, politically, economically. Among the Jews, competing sectors scorned one another. Roman rule over the Jews was often cruel and autocratic. And the gap between rich and poor seemed unbreachable. Today, our peoples and nations, despite enormous scientific progress, experience the same divisions, often exacerbated by the ability to insult and threaten one another using social media. And standing at the ready are weapons and armies that could destroy the planet as we know it.Read More