26 Dec 2021
The birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: and knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
Christmas is the great feast of the Incarnation. We remember God’s Son being born of a Virgin, so that he might, by this great act of love, save us from our sins. This is the very son of God we profess in the Nicene Creed: “the only-begotten Son of God, Begotten of the Father before all worlds; God, of God; Light, of Light; Very God, of Very God; Begotten, not made; Being of one substance with the Father; Through whom all things were made.” This is who, by this great act of love, became the little child in Bethlehem.
To the people at that time there seemed nothing unusual in the birth in the Bethlehem stable. The census taking had forced a large number of people to travel to their home cities to be numbered. And many did not hear the song of the Angels as the shepherds did. How few noted the star which guided the Wisemen. Could many have seen how unique were that couple seeking shelter with the animals when there was no room in the inn? Yet, on that incredible day, the King of Kings had arrived among us in great humility. The signs were there to see for those chosen to be the watchful ones.
If the common people had been looking for a king, they would probably direct their eyes to the palace in Jerusalem or even to the Emperor’s Roman court. Despite the prophesies of the coming of the Messiah in Scripture, few of the common folk were sensing how very near He was that first Christmas day. It is easy to be caught up in the glamor of this world and miss what is truly important—what will shake the world from its sleep and turn it upside down. For truly that is what that little baby in Bethlehem will accomplish to the astonishment of the universe. And here we are in the year of our Lord 2021 remembering that greatest of blessings.
But the hours of this year are quickly running out. It has been a year of anxieties, a year of struggles, and a year of surprises. As we remember the coming of the Son of God this Christmastide, we should also turn our attention to the desperate needs of those less fortunate around us. We should miss no opportunity to share the blessings we have both spiritual and material. Winter can be a harsh time for those in need and especially for the elderly. Let us all be sensitive to opportunities of sharing. Let us also remember those whom we have lost this year especially our beloved Archbishop Hartley. The joy of this season binds us together with the angelic choirs and the other blessed spirits in heaven. Let us look ahead to the year of our Lord 2022 and pray for future blessings and opportunities for spiritual growth and learning. The birth of the Redeemer, the present Christmas, will give us the strength and joy to set off on this next challenging stage of life with God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Bishop Edwin Tompkins