Christmas Message 2008
A message from Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson
2008 Christmas Message
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.” ~ Luke 2:15
Let’s go! Now! When angels came to some shepherds with a brilliant message one night long ago, the shepherds had a brilliant idea. Let’s go! Let’s see what God is doing!
The unknown dangers of the night did not hold them back. Perhaps they knew that some of God’s best work is done under the cover of darkness — the creation of all things, wrestling with Jacob, Israel’s escape from slavery.
Or maybe they didn’t. Maybe all they needed was the announcement of what God was up to this time. This time God would be conducting a rescue like none before — saving the whole world, bringing peace and goodwill. Once again it’s an undercover operation — God hidden deep in the flesh and working “under the sign of opposites” (as Martin Luther called it). Arriving as a baby in diapers, God’s Son recruited tax collectors and fishermen, social misfits and despised sinners in a rescue mission that culminated in the hidden power of the cross.
What if the shepherds had yawned, “That’s interesting, some other time,” and remained sitting in the night, in the dirt, in the comfort of predictable hardships and familiar enemies? Would promised joy have found them anyway?
Let’s not test that speculation with our lives. Let’s go! Let’s see what God is doing!
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America