Gates feature prominently throughout the Bible. They are places of encounter, judgement, entrance, exit and decision. The final manse study group looks at The Gate of Total Commitment. The group meets just after 7pm, with the study starting at 7.30pm
Phone 447 1617 for details
Open the Gates: 6 – The Gates of Christmas
Reading: Luke 2:1-20
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirin’i-us was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!”
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”
And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
This is the most familiar passage in the Bible. People who know little about Christian faith tend to know this story well. It has a political context – set in the history of the Roman empire and the failed Israelite kingdom once ruled over by David. It has an emperor and governor of Syria. In the background is King Herod, Wise Men, a star and animals. It has a homeless couple on the move, and an unexplained pregnancy. It has inner reflection (Joseph, the wise men, Mary). It has angels (messengers) and shepherds (also messengers). At its heart, it has the birth of the Saviour, Jesus. His other given name is Emmanuel, which means God with us.
1. In the Christmas stories, though not mentioned by name, where are the gates/doorways, and who is kept in by them, or out by them?
- In our world today – how is Christmas a time of inclusion and exclusion?
- What things does the Church (and the Christians who are the Church) need to do to ‘open the gates’ to people at Christmas time, and at other times of the year?