Luke 2:1-4 (NRSV)
Recalling these familiar verses in Luke reminds us of two different ways we often experience scripture as well as life experiences. For example, just like Luke’s verses, I remember the Panama Canal from 3rd grade by rote recall. But then, when I visited the Canal, its history, people, and working processes inspired a deeper knowing.
Looking further into Luke’s familiar verses, we see that God used the Emperor’s decree to transport Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, all without raising eyebrows. The trip was about the same distance as Richmond to Waynesboro, Virginia. We can drive that now in about one and a half hours. It took Joseph and Mary about three days. How difficult that trip must have been for them.
While Bethlehem provided a historical link to David, it also contained an under-the-radar lesson God left for us and the world. As Matthew Henry’s Commentary puts it:
“He [God] well knew how unwilling we are to be meanly lodged, clothed, or fed; how we desire to have our children decorated and indulged; how apt the poor are to envy the rich, and how prone the rich to disdain the poor. But when we by faith view the Son of God being made man and lying in a manger, our vanity, ambition, and envy are checked.”
When I witnessed the Panama Canal’s huge lock gates open slowly, I realized that the huge ship had been lifted over four feet in height. Later I learned that the lift was not powered by some giant-human, ambitious engine, but instead by God’s own law of gravity using water stored nearby at a higher level. The Panama Canal continues to provide the world this direct-trip link between two major bodies of water. Similarly, Advent reminds us that the world has been gifted a Holy link directly between God and humanity through Jesus, the Christ, a living example of God’s nature.
Thought for the Day (From John Darby’s Synopsis):
“This act only accomplishes the marvelous purpose of God, causing the Savior-king to be born in the village where, according to the testimony of God, that event was to take place.”
Lord, ground us in your love and help us see from your son Jesus Christ, what we need to see, to be ready to carry forth your plan for us. Help us to sense and know that your loving intentions often flow through seemingly routine events, places and people in our lives. Amen.
C. Page Highfill