Posted by Sheila Thomasson

For many of us our favorite time of the year is here. By the time this Herald reaches us in our homes, we will have already celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday and vowed again to trim off the excess pounds we put on as we stuffed ourselves on stuffing and turkey. We will also be entering Advent and beginning our plans to celebrate Christmas and the birth of our Lord. It is indeed a “most wonderful time of the year.”
It is also the time when we read and think about the wonderful Christmas gospel that provides us with so many of the facts surrounding the birth of Jesus. There was a decree that a census be taken and a tax imposed. There was an excited young man in love with an even younger woman. There was a birth, a boy, and a manger. There were shepherds, an angel, and then a heavenly chorus. With the shepherds were sheep and we think numerous other animals, as all this took place outside the inn. And God’s glory shone everywhere.
I never enter this holy season without thinking of all the moving parts and people that were in motion as God came into the world as a tiny baby. Even the stars lined up to confirm a Savior was born, a Savior given to redeem us and bring forgiveness to a sinful humanity. I always think of how God’s glory was seen by each of the participants in this miraculous birth and then of what each one did with what they saw and experienced.
The virgin Mary is the easiest to consider, for Luke tells us that she treasured what she had heard and pondered all these events in her heart.We really don’t know what Joseph did because we are never told. But I have my suspicions. Joseph accepted the responsibility God placed under his care and then did everything he could to be a protective and loving earthly father.
The shepherds? Well, the shepherds experienced fear, curiosity, and then belief and joy enough to go out into their neighborhoods and the surrounding hills praising God for what they had heard and seen.
Even the sheep were undoubtedly changed as the glory of God shown all around them and the heavenly chorus tuned up to sing the praises of God for what He has done.
As Christmas approaches, each of us has an opportunity to take our place in this drama surrounding the birth of Jesus. We can listen and ponder its meaning. We can accept the responsibilities God places on us and act in such a way that we reflect God’s love to others. We can be afraid and dismiss the story; be curious and pursue the story; believe the story and experience its joy so that we share it with others. We can bask in the glory of God all around us and listen for the sound of the heavenly chorus in our life. The one thing it is impossible to do, however, is to hear the story and do nothing.
That’s the reason this is the most wonderful time of the year and really of creation. The drama of Christ’s coming and birth is that it calls us to become a part of His story. While our children’s Christmas pageants have what we call extras, the drama of our Lord’s birth calls all of us to take a part and a place in the telling of His story to all the world. Whether we share our reflections, our sense of Christian response and responsibility, our curiosity, belief and joy, or even turn our ears to the sound of the chorus, one cannot simply watch. The glory of God shines too bright for us to do nothing.
My prayer for us this Advent is that we prepare ourselves for what God is doing and at Christmas find our place among the characters being called to witness that “unto us is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11).
This Christmas, ponder which part and role God is calling you to accept and share, and have a  Merry Christmas!
In Christ,
Pastor Butler +