Reflections on the 3rd Sunday of Advent: a Child is Born

Today is the third Sunday in Advent. I have shared passages from the Bible that relate to the individual, personal experiences of Mary and of Joseph. Now, let us read the story of their experience together and the story of the Nativity. They say Luke may have actually spoken to Mary and heard her account of the events that transpired. Read what he had to say…

The Gospel of Luke: 2-7 The Birth of Jesus

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

If you can, tonight, as the sun sets, find some place where you can be quiet. Light a candle, if you like, or light three candles for the third Sunday of Advent. Meditate on the story of the birth of Jesus.

It is such a little story and yet, it is so huge in its significance, so huge that, even now when I think about it, I get a lump in my throat. Do you remember the first time it was told to you? Here is an illustration from one of my childhood books, The Christmas Story, illustrated by Eloise Wilkin.

There is something in this story, I think, that almost everyone can relate to on some level. I always loved it but when I brought my infant son home from the NICU in early December 1998, it really resonated with me in a different way. And perhaps that message changes as we accumulate years and life experiences. What message surfaces today for you?

Here is a carol for this evening.

O Little Town of Bethlehem (American carol, Phillips Brooks,1868)

O little town of Bethlehem how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

O morning stars, together proclaim the holy birth,
and praises sing to God the King and peace to men on earth;
For Christ is born of Mary; and, gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondring love’.

How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is giv’n!
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heav’n.
No ear may hear his coming; but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him, still the dear Christ enters in.

O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray,
Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today,
We hear the Christmas angels, the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel.



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