By Ian Clausen
Luke 2: 1-14
A decree went out (2:1) Luke tells us in Chapter 2. A message from no less than the Emperor himself. A message, one might say, from the king of this world, summoning all the people to register their existence. So, his people come — this mass of innumerable nobodies. Among them is Joseph, among them Mary; and so too we learn is the child they are expecting, concealed in the womb outside the Emperor’s decree, removed from the in-gathering nobodies’ hustle-and-bustle. Outside of society and its political machinations, the child is a nobody to the nobodies around him. And yet, he is also to be counted among them: the time came for her to deliver (2:6).
He is arriving, he is here: let the world rejoice! The world is not ready to receive him, however. The town is over-swelling with the throng of humanity. There was no place for them in the
inn (2:7), Luke reports. To have no place in this world to call home. To have no home in this world to be placed. Is this not the tragedy of the human condition? Ah, but Luke tells us that Mary knew what to do: She...wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger. As God clothed a cast-out Adam and Eve (Gen. 2:21), so Mary would cover her cast-out child in a stable. The mother of God playing god to God, giving God a place in this world to call home.
This home is in the wilderness, in the fields, among shepherds. The only decent place to enjoy a light show these days. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified (2:9). As they should be, but the word is one of comfort and joy. I am bringing you good news — a new decree is out. Of great joy for all the people — the summons is for everyone, too. Yet the angel says not to look for flashy imperial insignia, but the ragtag garments of a young mother’s love. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger (2:12).
And then, Luke tells us the heavens opened up. A song bursts forth from a multitude of the heavenly host (2:13). Music unlike anything the world has ever heard. Music we cannot hear without the favor of the Lord. Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors! (2:14). That peace, by the way, is to be found in a manger. Do not look to the city for the peace that you seek! A new city is here; a new ruler has arrived. To you is born this day (2:11) — you are known to him already. Step forth, then, you shepherds, you ponderers of the midnight sky! Your place is among the people of the city of David, a city that today receives a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord (2:11).