As we read the opening chapters of Luke's gospel, we are encountering the familiar stories surrounding the birth of Jesus, which are stories that we most frequently associate with the liturgical seasons of Advent and Christmas. These stories are inevitably linked to the sights and sounds of the Christmas season - children's pageants, Christmas carols, candlelight Christmas Eve services, etc. However, it is important for us to remember that Luke had none of this in mind as he was writing his gospel nearly two thousand years ago! In Luke, the story of Jesus' birth is full of political language that would have challenged the status quo of the Roman Empire in the first century. The Emperor of Rome was often referred to as the Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior, and the One who bring Peace. But Luke declares that the newly born Jesus is, in fact, the world's true Savior and Messiah, the One who will bring God's peace to all the world!
As you reflect on this reading today, try to set aside the usual connections to Christmas and think about what this text would have meant to Luke's readers two thousand years ago!