Christmas Reflections: Come with Haste
In Luke 2, the story of Christ’s birth unfolds before us: the census of “all the world”, the birth of Christ in a lowly stable and the angels’ proclamation to the shepherds. Luke’s account of the story builds anticipation until the very voices of heaven cry out to humble man, “Glory to God in the highest!”
We know how the story continues. The shepherds then go “with haste” to the scene of the birth (Luke 2:16, ESV).
And this is how we envision the shepherds: hurrying to the stable and falling before the Christ child. Our imaginations, our nativity sets, and some depictions of Christ’s birth often add the three wise men presenting their gifts. Regardless, we typically think of the Christ child at the center, surrounded by humanity’s first witnesses of the coming of the King of kings.
Although these images have their place, this is not what we see in Joseph van Oostsanen’s The Adoration of the Christ Child. In this work, it seems all of heaven rejoices. Angels surround the Christ child, blowing trumpets announcing his birth, singing to him with stringed instruments, carrying the glad news to the world. The picture almost moves with their jubilant activity. Mary and Joseph stand above the manger, adoring the tiny baby resting there.
To the left side, the shepherds stand by the door. One shepherd clad in tattered clothing leans with his hand on the doorpost looking weary and hopeful. He peers into the stable, eagerly watching a celebration that has already begun.
Isn’t that how we all approach Christmas? So often the material world and the things in front of our eyes make us forget to adore our Savior. We forget to participate in the joy and adoration that the heavenly beings participate in ceaselessly. While heaven cries “Holy, holy, holy,” we curse traffic jams, get stressed by deadlines, or feel burnt out in the places we serve. It is an unavoidable effect of our human condition: we will always arrive late to the celebration because we have strayed away from it.
So what can we do this Christmas morning as we find ourselves running late to the celebration that resounds in the heavens? Run, of course! Like the shepherds, we go “with haste” to the feet of our Savior and join in the angel’s song. We can return to the passages and songs that remind us again of man’s reason for joy and God’s grace. No matter how worn, ragged, and untimely we find ourselves at this moment, we also find something else— the stable door is still ajar. It is Christmas again and that alone means we have another opportunity to come and rejoice over what we have forgotten for too long.
So, let us hurry to the manger and “see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” (v.15)
Luke 2:1-21 The Birt of Jesus Christ
"Gloria!" - John Rutter