“In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.” vs. 8
Tonight there will be worship services at the Shepherd’s Fields, just outside of Bethlehem. The crowds will be small–Israel’s borders remain closed to foreign visitors. But worshippers will be there, huddled outside against the chill on a dark hillside with the lights of Jewish settlements just across the valley. Aside from a small beautifully adorned modern chapel, there’s little to see, plenty of rocks, a small cave suitable for worship, and ruins of countless churches built there through the centuries. But the locals will be there tonight–devoid of religious trappings, the prayers and songs seem sanctified, and one can imagine it to be a holy night. For many centuries the church didn’t celebrate Christmas–all the focus was on Easter. But inspired by Luke’s story some began to understand that the message of the gospel was more than a cross and an empty tomb. As the angels in Luke’s story sang, Christmas was “the good news of great joy for all the people.” It’s a celebration of God’s eternal presence within the creation itself–and it really is for all people! And so tonight we come, a few in Bethlehem, billions across the globe, singing for joy and proclaiming the eternal presence of Christ in our world. In Christ the people who walk in darkness have seen a great Light–and that’s the hope of the world!
Thought for the Day: What’s the difference between Christmas and Easter?