Anglican Morning Devotion for 25 December 2021 Anno Domini (Christmas Day)
a ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)” (Luke 2:1-2; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
“And it came to pass in those days”……which days? The former days (and present) when men groped and sat in abject darkness, and who longed to see the Great Light which is the Light of the World. (Isaiah 9:2)
“There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus”… from whom? From the absolute ruler and sovereign of the known political world regime. This demonstrates the means by which the prophecy should be fulfilled that Christ would be born in tiny Bethlehem. God is Ruler of the supposed monarchs of all earthly powers. He even brought it to pass through the agency of the rulers of darkness. His Love, Grace, and Power still stand even where wickedness seems predominant.
When a young lad of seven, I was chosen to play a very demanding (for me) role in the Church Christmas program. My part was to stand at the beginning of the Christmas skit and recite, without notes, the first fifteen verses of the 2nd chapter of the Gospel of St Luke. I had practiced it many times and had begun to feel confident in the role. But when I stood, for the first time, before many scores of people, my courage failed me and I was lost after the first five verses. Terror gripped my youthful heart as I stared at the expectant faces before me. After an interminable period of, perhaps 5 seconds, a voice was heard completing the recitation. It was my mother. And all went splendidly well after my gaffe.
It was at that time that I realized that it was the Word itself that had the power and majesty of Heaven and not the human vessel from which that Word was proclaimed. This, for a time, was an embarrassing memory, but now I treasure the time that Light burst in upon my blinded eyes and I saw the essential Truth of God’s Word and its effulgent Grace. Christmas is all about memories. The good and beautiful memories emerge in reds and greens and stark light. Even the less happy memories are caressed by our minds recollection and somehow become just as cherished as the others and appear in pastel yellows and blues.
I never tire of hearing these profound verses from the Gospel of St Luke read at Christmas. They bring thoughts of the most sublime magnitude to our minds. They are absolute proof of God’s Sovereignty even in a world gone mad. In those distant days there was evil in men’s heart even as now in the hearts of man, but God moved in transcendent power in spite of those wicked times. He still does so.
“Hark, the Herald Angels Sing, Glory to the Newborn King” – such a majestic Hymn and Carol. It is one of those beautiful works that define Christmas. And what of this one “It came upon on Midnight Clear”?
There are some mornings more glorious and more profound than others. One glorious morning was the first to dawn upon the early dawn of Creation. A second great morning was the one in which Noah and his family peeked out the Ark atop Ararat and knew that God had given them all a new beginning. And next, on that night, two thousand years past, Heaven bent low to earth and the Holy Angels bathed the hillsides with wondrous light as they heralded the moment that would divide all Eternity into the “Befores” and “Afters”. God came down, and dwelt among us. The host of angels, likely led by the Mighty One Gabriel, came down and kissed the earth. They bathed the earth in the beauty of their Light and Holiness. This was a wonderful scene. But the most wonderful of all lay quietly and peacefully in a plain wooden manger in the same town. The Wise Men, too, had been given precious intelligence of the event, and acted upon it, bringing their invaluable and prophetic gifts. The poor shepherds, always looked down upon by men of means and authority, were the favored ones by God on this special morning. God came down to them, and to us. How different a King is Christ from those who measure worth by wealth and corrupting influence?
On that cold night in Bethlehem, no one imagined that this most innocent of all babes would, some thirty three years later, die on a cruel cross for crimes and sins He never committed…and He would do so willingly – for you and me? But the last and undeniably most Glorious of all mornings was that in which Mary went to the Garden Tomb and found it Empty, and was awed by the Gardener there who turned her sobs of sorrow to tears of joy. That is the morning that Christmas made possible.
Life is made up of moments and sweet memories, not years, days, or hours. Make some wonderful memories of enduring value this Christmas.