Today’s Scrip-Bit   23 December 2022 Luke 2:10.

Luke 2:10.        And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 

At last it’s Friday! And many shouts of ‘TGIF! Thank God it’s Friday’ have gone up around the world! But in my area we’re especially thankful that the major snowstorm forecasted for yesterday never materialized. Praise the Lord! Instead, wind and rain materialized. However, we’re not yet free from the crazy machinations of the weather, for as we speak, freezing rain is coming down outside my window, and who knows how or when it will end.  And believe me, the freezing rain is indeed worse than the snow; have you slipping and sliding any which way, while freezing up on your windshield, often making visibility extremely difficult despite your wipers strenuously working. (smile) 

So, the proviso for yesterday still holds true for today: don’t go out unless you have to! And since the Lord was gracious enough to give us life this Friday morning, I guess we ought to continue with looking at the Christmas story as we promised. Now we ended yesterday talking about the necessity of humility and peace in Jesus’ philosophy, things that the world doesn’t value very highly. The warmongers, the arrogant, and haughty are whom the world celebrates. But not Jesus. In His kingdom you must be humble, seek peace and be willing to serve others! And that’s the example He gave us during His time here on earth. 

Unfortunately though, too many of us supposed Christians display none, or very little of those attributes that Jesus considers so important to His cause. But that’s another sermon for another day. (smile) Let’s get back to the Christmas story. As we said yesterday, the lowly shepherds were the first people to know of the birth of Jesus. Can you imagine this surreal scene. The shepherds are watching over their flocks in the middle of the night, when the Good Book says: ‘And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon (stood before) them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore (greatly) afraid.’ (Luke 2:9) 

And who wouldn’t be afraid eh, if an angel of the Lord suddenly appears in the dark of night with all the Lord’s glory shining round him? And these were mostly unschooled, uneducated, poorer folk, so their fear factor was possibly even higher than most. ‘And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ (Luke 2:10-12) 

And then a heavenly host, a multitude of angels suddenly showed up and began making music, singing and praising God. (Luke 13-14) Can you imagine the shepherds’ predicament? But before we move on, hear this interesting explanation from the scholars on the subject of ‘Swaddling clothes. They were bandage-like strips of cloth wrapped around an infant to ensure that the limbs would grow straight. Not to swaddle a child would be a form of abuse (Ezek. 16:2-4). This wrapping would aid the shepherds in identifying Jesus.’ 

Wow! How different from our procedures today! Wrapping up a child like that now, would probably get you charged for abuse. (smile) However, when all the hoopla had ended and the angels had gone away, the shepherds decided to go to Bethlehem and check out the angel’s news. The Good Book says: ‘And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger (feed trough). And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered (marvelled) at those things told by the shepherds…And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.’ (Luke 2:16-18, 20) 

Ah friends, what a marvellous story! And you’ll notice whom the Lord chose to spread the news of our Saviour’s birth? The poor, lowly shepherds, not the entrenched news media of the day! And they were excited over the news and began praising and glorifying God! That wasn’t the reaction though of the religious leaders and supposedly important people of the society. Anyway, the Lord got the news disseminated the way He desired, and that’s the important thing. (smile) 

But you know one of my favourite verses of scripture deals with Mary and all the things she experienced and heard during Christ’s lifetime. And it’s a simple but very provocative verse. ‘But Mary kept all these things, (that were told by the shepherds) and pondered them in her heart.’ (Luke 2:19) And it wouldn’t be the last time that was written of her. When Jesus was presented in the temple at the eight day, as was the custom, the priest Simeon and prophetess Anna also said wonderful things about Him. ‘And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.’ (Luke 2:33) 

And again, after a visit to Jerusalem, Jesus, as a twelve-year-old had strayed away from the caravan on the way back home, and his parents found Him three days later in the temple ably conversing with the wise men. And we all know Jesus’ answer to His mother’s condemnation. ‘How is it that ye sought me? wist (knew) ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.’  (Luke 2:49-51) 

Ah mih people, Mary’s life certainly was not easy. From the day she accepted the Lord’s offer of bearing the incarnate Son of God, it became a roller coaster ride, unto the very end when she had to look at her first born impaled by big, rusty nails on an old wooden cross. But the Lord in His utmost faithfulness, gave her the wherewithal to handle it, like He gives most mothers the ability to raise their children and handle whatever problems they encounter. Now, let’s go to God, and open up our hearts to Him, through our Friday Chant. 

‘Oh Lord, thanks for getting me safely through this past week. You know it’s been rough… what with all the confusion and anxiety caused by the pandemic and our many other serious problems. We can’t fix them on our own Lord, so we desperately need your help. Oh heavenly Father, with your omnipotent help, and our trusting faith, we know that we can stand strong and steadfast and defeat the simmering unrest in our land. So Lord, we sincerely ask you today to give those involved in the forefront of this serious and unexpected storm, the wise guidance to handle the situation properly, without further serious setbacks. 

And please help those of us who must go out to work amidst all the confusion, to be responsible and to stay safe. And Lord, we fervently pray that You’ll use this situation to return backsliders to your fold, show them the error of their ways. And please introduce a new flock of believers, who will embrace your LOVE and compassion by the example, we, your faithful believers set. Yes Lord, please use this pandemic, the bubbling discontent and dissatisfaction in our land, as a means of restoring faith in You, so that our sinful world can wake up and smell the coffee, wake up and smell it sweet and strong! We pray this in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! Amen!’ 

And if we want to receive positive answers to our prayers, then we need to do the things we promised. Much LOVE!

…Christmas…a joyful season…despite the many ills in our world… 

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