1st January 2021

Our Christmas celebrations combine two biblical stories of the nativity. In a follow-up to Wednesday’s “thought”, let us reflect on the story according to Luke (1.26–2.40). What does each account contribute to our experience of Christmas?

God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary who was to be married to Joseph, a descendent of King David. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will conceive and give birth to a son. He will be called the Son of God.”

Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord, how my spirit rejoices in God my saviour!”

Some months later, the Roman Emperor announced a census for which Joseph and Mary travelled to Bethlehem. While they were there, Mary gave birth to a son, laying him in a manger because there was no other lodging for them.

That night, the angel appeared to a group of shepherds in the fields nearby. “To you is born this day a saviour who is Christ, the Lord”. A multitude of angels joined Gabriel, singing, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth among those whom he favours”. The shepherds hurried to the village and found the baby lying in the manger, and they told everyone what had happened.

Eight days later, Joseph and Mary took the baby to the temple in Jerusalem to be circumcised, and they named him Jesus. They were met in the temple by Simeon, who took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, “Now I have seen your salvation. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel”. Also in the temple was Anna, a prophet, who also praised God and spoke about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for God.

Ian Waddington