Telling the True Story

A Devotion for the Second Day of Christmas December 26
Read Luke 2:15-20

“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” Luke 2:20

Rich Barger and his family lived in Iran during the revolution that eventually led to the overthrow of the Shaw. On Christmas Eve 1978, they were gathered around the Christmas tree in their home in Tehran. They were under a mandatory curfew; otherwise he and his family would have worshiped in a local German church. On that night they would do church in their home.

As nighttime fell, he writes, “we heard the sounds we had become accustomed to hearing each night. We would hear voices shouting in Farsi from the rooftops; ‘God is great!’ and ‘Death to the Shaw!’ and ‘Death to America’ we would hear the deafening rumble of armored military transports rolling down the street outside our door, taking soldiers to their positions in the city. We would hear machine-gun fire and other eruptions of violence. Inside, my wife, a friend from the US, and I were singing Christmas carols as loud as we could to keep our small children, whom we held in our arms from hearing the mayhem outside.”

Two stories were being told that night. The story told in the street was a version of one of the oldest stories, the story of Cain killing his brother Abel. That story has been reenacted in every age – a tale of the quest for power and the use of force to seize it. It is a story we have never been able to resolve. The second story told that night was the story disclosed in the words of our carols. ‘Hark the Herald Angels sing, Glory to the newborn king; Peace on Earth and “Mercy Mild, God and sinners reconciled. Silent Night, Holy Night! All is calm, all is bright – round yon virgin mother and child.’ Only one of these stories can be true. Only one will have the last word.”*

At Christmas we dare to proclaim the Light of Christ which is the true story . . . God’s story. It is the story of how light came into our world to stay. Darkness has not overcome . . . will never overcome it. For Christ came to be our light, to be our hope, to be our peace and to give us life. On that holy night, the shepherds returned, telling everyone they could find all that they had seen and heard. The spoke of angels with a message of  “Peace on earth,” a child wrapped in “swaddling clothes” . . . and of angels singing “Glory to God in the Highest.”

Prayer: God, you send us messengers. We look for halos and wings, but most often your messengers come wrapped in the ordinary faces of friends, neighbors or the strangers who surprise us with care. May we hear the messages you are sending to us, embrace the words and follow, even when we wonder how what we hear can possibly be true. Amen

Additional Advent & Christmastide Devotions can be found by clicking here:   Advent & Christmastide Devotions

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