Friday, December 23, 2011

A Not So Silent Night

Can you imagine walking into Bethlehem that night? I imagine that it wasn't a "silent night."

Luke 2:1-20  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, his fiancĂ©e, who was now obviously pregnant.

6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7 She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

8 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. 

There were thousands of people that had traveled home to Bethlehem that needed a place to stay. No doubt there were people that had never left their home town that could offer a place to stay to their friends and family.

Can you imagine how much noise these two groups of people made as they were reunited with their family and friends? I imagine that there were a lot of parties, a lot of feasting and a lot of alcohol being abused. They probably walked into town and saw all of this partying, shouting, loud music and they probably had to step around some drunks in the street.

After three days of walking from Nazareth to Bethlehem, perhaps she was able to ride a donkey, the expectant mom is ready to lay down in a comfortable bed. Instead they walk into a packed town that wasn't set-up for tourist and of course there isn't a room available.

Imagine Mary laying in a stable, just on the outskirts of town, she must have been nervous, being in a strange place surrounded by a town full of people that didn't care. Why did she have to give birth here? Why not back in Nazareth with a mid-wife and her mother?

There was a much more pleasant noise that night. It was coming from the fields just across the way from the stable, it started out as one angel giving an announcement and ended up being a huge crowd of angels singing and praising God.

The shepherds work was more important at night because of the threats from thieves and predators but they didn't let that stop them from checking out the exciting news. After-all the angels told them that "The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!" How could they possibly stay with the sheep, they hurried to see baby Jesus and after they left him the shepherds told everybody that they could about him.

This world is full of noise from everywhere, most of it isn't good news, rather it is bad news, confusion and lies. I need to make some noise about Jesus, noise that tells about the peace and forgiveness that he came to earth to give.

Thank you Lord for the hope that you give us. Help me to shut-out the noise of the season and celebrate your birth.