Luke 2:1-20 - Read by John Ellis, Jr.
1 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Considering all of the difficulties of this past year, it is particularly refreshing to read Luke’s account of the birth of Christ and hear the heavenly host declare a message of good news and great joy. The Messiah has come, and with him the fulfilled promise of eternal peace with God, as well as the ability to live at peace with one another. True peace is ours when God is with us.
In the early part of his ministry, John Wesley sailed to America with a group of Moravians, and during a violent storm at sea, Wesley was dismayed to find that he did not possess the same peace in the face of death as the Moravians. Not long after, Wesley experienced a heart-warming experience of true conversion that resulted in peace because he knew that God was with him. Wesley never forgot this fact, and at the end of his life, surrounded by friends, he held the hands of those who loved him and declared, “Best of all, God is with us.”
Today, we conclude our Advent devotional and podcast with the declaration of the heavenly host: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” Peace has come at last!
And best of all, God is with us!
Our King and Savior is drawing near!
O come, let us adore him!