Dear Family in Christ,
Luke 2:6-7 “While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”
If not already the Christmas tree will soon be up and decorated. Perhaps like ours, each ornament represents a story, a memory, or just a gift that ties these moments with similar moments in the past. The stockings will get filled with treats and goodies. You may already be into several weeks of listening to Christmas carols being joyfully sung, right alongside the secular Christmas music that have become a staple of the season. Traditions will be reenacted in homes and churches, with family and friends, with hot chocolate and cookies. We will gather together on Christmas day to celebrate something truly remarkable. The moment where our God came into this world in an entirely new way. In Jesus, which means “The Lord Saves”
In the Gospel of Luke the birth of Jesus is preceded by dreams, visits from angels, and songs. For those involved, there was a great deal of anticipation built up. There is for any family desiring to add a child to their family, though not all happen through such miraculous means and get angels to announce and explain the significance to us. Even without such divine fanfare, we all have our stories of how our families came to grow.
I remember being in the room for the birth of each of our children. I also remember much of our journeys to get to those rooms. Isaac was 13 days overdue, and we were in fact in two different rooms, because on our first trip progress stopped. So they sent us home where we rested and ended up going back within a few hours. I remember the doctor holding him up and declaring “It’s a boy” and Sarah and I saying, “He is Isaac.” Two years later we would be back on that floor of the hospital, only a few days overdue this time. They had barely given Sarah the epidural when she declared, “I think this baby is coming.” With a flurry of staff running about, that time the doctor had barely gotten her gloves on before she was lifting up our little girl. The doctor wanted me to have the honor of declaring to Sarah who this was, and frazzled I gave her middle name first, “Grace! Oh I, uh, Zoe, it’s Zoe!” I sputtered. Whether through birth or through adoption when families grow we remember those remarkable occasions with our stories.
With all the fanfare leading up to the birth, and quite a bit of fanfare to follow (the shepherds will see the sky filled with angels!), the actual birth story of Jesus is recorded by the author of the Gospel in these two sentences of Luke 2:6-7. In light of everything else, and in the way we celebrate this moment still to this day, it really is quite unremarkable. Jesus is born, swaddled, and given a place to rest, because being born takes a lot out of an infant. Just like all the rest of us who have come into the world, like me and Sarah, and our children, we were born, swaddled, and given some time to rest. Then for the next several years were vulnerable and dependent on our families to take care of us. That is how God came to be “The Lord Saves”, by going through the fulness of our experience, so no part of being human is ever apart from God’s redemption. That from first crying breath to last dying gasp, nothing is beyond God’s scope of salvation. It is a beautiful remarkable reminder of how God works in even the messy unremarkable normality of the natural parts of our lives.
While we celebrate this special day with our traditions and our families and our friends, may we also take the knowledge into our daily lives that God saves through the mundane not just the miraculous.
Pastor Jarrod Schaaf has been ordained as a minister in the ELCA and was the past Pastor at St. Paul in North Robinson.