Christmas Day Readings: A Great Joy to All People

SUNDAY’S READINGS | December 25, 2022

Christmas I: Isa. 9:2-7 • Ps. 96 • Titus 2:11-14 • Luke 2:1-14 (15-20)
Christmas II: Isa. 62:6-12 • Ps. 97 • Titus 3:4-7 • Luke 2:(1-7) 8-20
Christmas III: Isa. 52:7-10 • Ps. 98 • Heb. 1:1-4 (5-12) • John 1:1-14

Christmas is a festival of joy. It is a moment and season marked out for our renewal as we again joyfully receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Redeemer, revealed to us as the holy child. If celebrating the liturgy at night, we see even darkness shining with the brightness of the true light. We know ourselves in Christ as the adopted sons and daughters of God, and so we become Christlike and thoroughly new (the Collects). The Lord for whom the world has waited is here, and he is the joy of all creation.

We are thus summoned to an extraordinary joy. “Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the whole earth” (Ps. 96:1). “All the whole earth” is the cosmos alive with exultation. We hear a voice resounding in the heavens: “‘I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!’” (Luke 2:11-14).

The joy of Christ’s arrival is the theme of the moment and the 12-day season set apart with the name Christmas. Amid this message of happiness, however, a warning is issued, and an explanation necessary. The warning is brief and almost cryptic. “And [Mary] gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloths,” a beautiful image of maternal affection. Then we hear this: “and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). Indeed, there was no room for Jesus, no place, apart from a feeding trough, to lay his tender flesh in first seconds of his early life. In this image, there is a suggestion of the world’s rejection that would hound him all his days. St. John puts it this way: “He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him” (1:10-11). It is possible — God forbid, on this most holy day — to turn away from Jesus, which would rob not the day but you of all joy. May the Spirit open the door of your heart!

An explanation answering a question: Why is this an event of unimaginable importance? St. Paul’s Epistle to Titus gives an answer. “For the grace of God has appeared,” that is, Jesus Christ among us, “bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good work” (Titus 2:11-14). Christ is here to make us new: forgiven, redeemed, and commissioned to some good and glorious work.

With your mind’s eye, “Go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place” — for you, for your life, and your joy.

Look It Up: The Collects

Think About It: Rich in theology

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