Reflecting on the Christmas story
December 6, 2012.
A group of some 60 people, clergy and laity, was invited to take a subsidised trip for one week to the Holy Land, as guest of the Israeli government. Most of us, at our own expense, also journeyed to Greece for a week. Our guide in Israel suggested that, for our first visit, we go to see the sights, and for a return visit spend time reflecting on the sights. Twenty-some years later, I joined a group tour for two weeks in Israel and in Egypt, with three days cruising down the Nile River in Africa (the longest river in the world, stretching from Burundi in the south to Egypt in the north), then on to the Mediterranean Sea and Europe.
This Christmas season — 2012 — I take you to Shepherds’ field in the Bethlehem area, where we reflected on the Christmas story that was read to us. It was about the birth of Jesus which was told to the shepherds by an angel. In this era of one financial crisis after another, along with escalating violence, we need to hear the angelic message: “Do not be afraid ... I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people, for to you this day in the city of David a saviour who is the Messiah ...” (Luke 2:10-11 N.R.S.V.) The saviour was born to save us from our sins. Humankind needs the Saviour Jesus Christ, especially in this turbulent period of history. He can calm the storms of our lives. We also sang the great well-known carols -Silent Night, While Shepherds Watched Their flocks By Night and others.
May we too praise God and pray for this world. “Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace ...” (Luke 2”14 N.R.S.V.) Peace to you all!
As we prepare to enter 2013, may we be sustained by words that helped the late American President Abraham Lincoln: “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and He delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4 N.K.J.V.)
(THE REV. DR.) CHARLES A. SWAN