Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 2
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
God appears. But unexpectedly. First, as a baby in the womb of a blessed virgin, as a fetus conceived in Mary without a human father. This Child’s Father is God, but His body is created from nothing. God appears, born like all babies, amid pain and blood and sweat, perhaps with only the carpenter Joseph as the attending physician. He does not appear in a white, antiseptic birthing room, but in the dirt and stench of a stable. Even there, where animals live, the Son of Man is homeless (Matthew 8:20). He is laid on a cradle of hay, in whatever cloths His parents had with them. His first visitors are not family and friends, with flowers and balloons, but stinking shepherds, with nothing to give the Savior. They come anyway, to see “this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us” (Luke 2:15, ESV). And then they’re gone, telling everyone who will listen, praising God that He had allowed them to be witnesses of the newborn Savior.
God appears, the one for whom righteous men and women have long waited. After a month or so (Leviticus 12:4) in Bethlehem, God appears in His temple as Mary and Joseph make their way to Jerusalem to offer the appointed sacrifice. There, in the presence of God and the priests, were Mary and Joseph ashamed that they could not offer an unblemished lamb? All they could afford were the two pigeons of the poor. Do not be ashamed, poor parents! The Child whom you hold is the Lamb who will be slain for the salvation of all. He is the promised one who appears to Simeon and Anna, that odd, old pair waiting and praying in the courts of the Lord. Filled with the Holy Spirit, devout Simeon sees the salvation of God prepared in the presence of all peoples, and goes to his death in peace, according to the Lord’s word (Luke 2:29-30). And the long-widowed Anna, praying and fasting, starts thanking God; see her speaking and pointing to the Baby in Simeon’s arms. Do you wait for the redemption of Israel? she asks. Here He is, this infant. These are the ones to whom God appears, as a baby in the arms of the poor: to animals, to shepherds, and to the old and forgotten.