Luke 2: 4-20 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
At Pleasant Garden UMC’s Christmas Eve Service Nancy Jo read the children a pop-up children’s book about the Biblical story of Christ’s birth. Charlotte and Abby helped display the book, turning the pages and pulling the tabs at just the right time. It was a wonderful story which captivated even the most restless child.
I couldn’t help but think that Christmas is a kind of Pop-Up Story of Faith. The prophecies had been told for so long you would think that a lot, if not most people had forgotten or discounted them. They were busy with everyday, ordinary life and not expecting a Savior. It was the hustle and bustle of traveling during the most traveled time – census time when everyone had to head back home and be registered. So everybody was on the roads and trails. All the local restaurants, hotels and time shares were booked solid for days to come.
People were buying and selling, doing the very best they could to take advantage of the money that could be made in this census time windfall. I bet people are working extra shifts. No vacations. No time off. This is the time to make it… perhaps it was like the madness of our Black Fridays? Look out for yourself. Get your own business done and don’t let anyone get in your way.
I think we all can take our own experiences of life and read between the lines. We too are very busy with life and all that is expected of us at this time of the year. We too are pulled in many directions and our attention many times is not where it should be. We may not really be thinking of a Savior being born but just getting through the holidays.
But God sent us a Pop-Up Christmas Story. Amidst all the routine and everydayness of Advent and Christmas God Popped-Up right in the middle of it all. Some still didn’t notice and continued on with their busyness. Others became even more vengeful and brought more evil into the world. Others held even more tightly onto “their” stuff. But God came to be among us anyway.
When this young family was tired and weary God came anyway. When there was no room made for them God gave them a place where animals were housed. When business was going on as usual God sent an angel chorus to announce that this was a new day like there had never been. In the midst of everyday life God announces this Savior’s birth not in Jerusalem’s Times Square where all the rich and famous would see. No, the angels sang to lowly shepherds out in the field. Their response was to come and see what they had been told… they came to worship the King of Kings. Astrologers from the East had been following the sign of this birth for months now… and they were close. They too came to worship. In the midst of all this everydayness Christ was born in a cattle stall (cave). Yes, God popped-Up right in the middle of human life to birth a Savior for the world. Our response to God’s arrival is also to come and see, Come and worship the new born King.
Merry Christmas. May God pop-up right in the middle of your Christmas.
Dear Lord, Pop-Up in our lives… right in the midst of our everyday routine… Pop-Up in such a way that we can’t ignore you but that we will see your light and experience your redeeming grace. In and through Jesus. Amen.