“In those days Caesar August issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. Luke 2:1
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11
What a switch ten verses makes. Luke chapter two begins with the words: “In those days…” But by the time the angels come to the shepherds we see them announce that “Today” something spectacular has happened. Something that will change everything. A baby has been born. And not just any baby, but Jesus who is God’s only son. As the carol says: “Love Came Down at Christmas.” And if there is one thing certain, when love enters into any situation, love changes everything.
And yet we still tend to live in those days…those days before love came down. We knew what to expect in those days. We weren’t surprised in those days because in those days, life was predictable. But in those days, according to our passage life was anything but predictable or easy. Life was lived under Roman rule. The kings of this world dictated to everyone what they must do. No options, as they must and for Mary and Joseph it meant that they must travel to Bethlehem, where Mary, heavy with child, would end up giving birth to Jesus. They didn’t have the option. There was no choice, and the timing was certainly not convenient.
When we honestly think about our own, “in those days…” they were not all sunshine and laughter either. The past can get a fuzzy hazy look about it as we sand off all the rough edges and choose to only remember the good. Or worse, we choose to remember what we thought things should be like and not how they actually were. This type of remembering can get us into trouble. Because we compare our present with our past as we thought it should be when it wasn’t that way at all.
So, the telling of the nativity story begins with the words in those days…but changes with the angel’s announcement: Today! Today everything changes for the better. Everything will be better, not because everything will be easy, but because light and hope have entered into the world. The kings and rulers and powers will not rule the day because Love came down at Christmas. Love that gives us courage to do for others even when they have hurt us. Love that gives us courage to be kind when faced with meanness. Love that gives us courage to face all life throws at us.
And it is in letting Love be our guide throughout life that makes all the difference. Love, as Paul says that is patient, kind, not envious, boastful or proud. It is not rude, self-seeking, easily angered and keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not give evil the time of day but instead rejoices in truth. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (And you can find exactly how Paul said it in 1 Corinthians 13.)
While I strive to live my life filled with this kind of Love, I don’t always succeed. I get tired, hurt, lonely and sometimes just plain hungry that depending on my emotions can turn into what is known as being hangry…but I try. I hope you try too.
My prayer for you all “on this day” is that Love becomes your guiding light throughout life. I mean, think about it: If everyone tried to live with God’s amazing love guiding their every decision, what a beautiful world we would live in!