In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria. Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled. Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea. He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby. She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.
Eternal God, in the long ago days when the earth was above the clouds, and disease was caused by demons, your son was born to lighten all our darknesses.
We now, after the enlightenment, are in bondage to different limitations. We doubt what we cannot prove; we ignore what we cannot see, and finding little room for faith, we must confess, we suspect angels and disbelieve good news.
We admit ourselves to be both infected and affected by the spirit of our times. Behind talk of world peace, we hear the machinery of war; beneath talk of global equity we detect the posturing of the powerful; beside talk of your church being renewed, we recognize the bondage to failed patterns of the past. Rather than embrace the light, we become fascinated by darkness, and must confess, we suspect angels and disbelieve good news.
Ah, God, who will save us? Our cynicism is the fruit of our experience, not the key to the future. Our suspiciousness helps us to smell the rat, never to recognize the dove. Our perfect analysis may describe the mountain, but is helpless to move it. It is with little pride we must confess, we suspect angels and disbelieve good news.
As Christmas approaches, give us a share of that divine naiveté enjoyed by Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph, and unnamed country folk, who encountered angels and believed the Good News and recognized Christ among them. Amen
*The video for this #BlessedBreak was filmed at ACoB’s Christmas Eve service and the prayer is from the Iona community.
#BlessedBreak is a video devotional that offers readers a quick respite for spiritual sustenance. Keep an eye on ACoB’s online sites for more of this digital sanctuary.