Luke 2:1–14, (15–20) “In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph 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. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And 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. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.10But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ 13And 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 favours!’ 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”
A blessed Christmas to one and all! Maybe, like Joseph and Mary, you’ve gone back to your hometowns to celebrate Christ’s birth with family and friends. That’s what this narrative of a census as a prelude to Jesus’ birth always brings to mind. Isn’t it a funny notion that the tradition of going home for Christmas was begun by Jesus’ parents? But not everyone has a hometown—at least not anymore. Not everyone has their “own town” to return to where people know them and their family name. The church has become this place for many. The fellowship of my congregation and yours is where people can come and count and be registered. All because of Jesus. Whether they—or you— have been a “Chreaster” worshiper (an Urban Dictionary word for people who attend only Christmas and Easter services) or are at church every day of the week, you count! Everyone counts in God’s kingdom census. And everyone is welcomed home.
Almighty God, we give you thanks this Christmas Day for the birth of your son, Jesus, who came into this world so that all may have a place to belong and be registered with you. Amen.
Advent Photo Challenge: Take a picture each day during Advent and share on your social media platform of choice with #stpauladvent
Today’s picture inspiration: Welcome