Do you ever wonder if you are important to God? Do you ever wonder because there are so many people in this world – many of them are doing necessary and influential jobs – does God notice you? As you read today, think about the people in these verses. How important were they in their world?
Luke 2: 1 – 20 NLT
“At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. 4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5 He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.
6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.”
A carpenter and his young wife, who is in the last month of her pregnancy, travelled from Nazareth to Bethlehem, a journey of about 80 miles (126 km). Pictures in our books today usually show Mary riding on a donkey. Maybe she did, but maybe Joseph wasn’t rich enough to buy a donkey for this trip. I suspect she arrived in Bethlehem exhausted and bedraggled. Our children’s Christmas books today usually show lovely pictures of that birth scene. Everyone looks peaceful and well-dressed; the stable is incredibly clean with well-behaved animals.
In reality, when they arrived, they couldn’t find a place to stay and so they ended up in an area where the animals were kept. Can you imagine giving birth to your first child in a situation like that? Can you imagine giving birth alone with your husband – or maybe some other travellers around, along with the animals? God is a supreme being, controller of the universe. Wouldn’t you think that he would send his son to the world in a better place? At least a “middle-class” place? Instead, God chose the least important place to introduce his son to us.
“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.”
In a commentary by William Barclay, he mentioned the custom of the day was to have local musicians sing celebration songs outside the house where a baby was born. This time the songs weren’t sung by the manger, but they certainly were in the countryside over the shepherds. Shepherds in those days were considered the ‘lowest of the low’. Because their duties required them to be on the job 24/7, they didn’t keep the usual customs and religious practices of the Jews. So that kept them on the fringes of their Jewish communities. Historians also think because of their location, they were keeping the flocks of sheep used in the Temple sacrifices. Isn’t it interesting that God would announce in such a spectacular way, the coming of the Lamb of God to them?
In our culture today, we like to think we treat everyone equally. In reality, there is racial bias. People who have money can access anything they want. We protect our neighbourhoods; no middle-class neighbourhood wants subsidized housing close to them. We want our children to be the best. This idea of success permeates our culture. As a result, I suspect many of us tend to think of ourselves as just ordinary folks, nice but not important.
Is that how God thinks? No! Just look at how he came to earth. Born in a dirty, messy stable to a young girl and her carpenter husband. Announced to shepherds who were considered the lowest in society. Jesus travelled Israel with no home of his own. Died a horrendous death on a cross with thieves on each side.
God loves every single one of us no matter who we are. God considers each one of us important. He has something he wants each one of us to do – “love God with all our hearts and our neighbours as ourselves”. You are important. In this pandemic time, you are God’s special messenger wherever you are. So, don’t wonder if God notices you. He does?
“You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon him, for you are his personal concern.” 1 Peter 5: 7 J.B. Phillips
Our song for today is Beloved by Jordan Feliz