Christmas Eve: Taking Jesus’ Birth Seriously

Christmas Eve: Taking Jesus’ Birth Seriously

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” –John 14:6

The biblical narratives show a variety of reactions to Jesus’ birth. The shepherds went quickly to see what the Lord had revealed to them and “returned home, glorifying and praising God.” Simeon praised God for preparing salvation—not just for the people of Israel, but also for the Gentiles. Anna praised God and began to talk about Jesus to everyone. The magi honored him as a newborn king. Herod saw Jesus as a potential threat and took steps to protect his reign by killing babies born close to the same time.

These people took Jesus’ birth seriously and all of them were at least partially correct in what his birth would mean. The shepherds were correct that by making Jesus’ coming known to them, God was reaching beyond boundaries of class or stigma. Simeon was correct in seeing great hope, not just for Israel, but also for the Gentiles. Anna was correct that Jesus’ work would include the redemption of Jerusalem and should be shared with everyone. The magi and Herod were correct to see Jesus’ birth as having temporal as well as religious implications, which the magi were prepared to welcome and Herod was determined to prevent.

What about us? How seriously do we take the birth of Jesus? Are we willing to look beyond our own expectations for how God will speak to us and how we might be called to live? Would we risk the upheaval of a powerful movement of the Holy Spirit and open our hearts to God’s redemptive work—not just for ourselves, but for all nations? Are we willing to look anew at how our lives, filled with good things, hinder or help the vision of the hungry, the outcast welcomed and new norms of mutual respect and well-being challenging the empires of our day?

I suspect that, for us, these are some of the things that would show that we are taking the birth of Jesus seriously, that we are responding to God’s invitation to see Emmanuel, God with us. May Jesus be born in us again this season.

Harriett Jane Olson is general secretary and CEO of United Methodist Women.

Posted or updated: 12/22/2017 12:00:00 AM

Advent 2017

December 3: First Sunday of Advent
December 10: Second Sunday of Advent
December 17: Third Sunday of Advent
December 24: Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve
January 6: Epiphany

Contact the Spiritual Growth Office:

Alisha L. Gordon, M.Div.
Executive for Spiritual Growth

phone 212-870-3905

Give Thanks. Give Now.

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