Luke 2:8-12 contains the DNA of the gospel. You know the exact passage I mean, because Linus quotes it in the famous scene from A Charlie Brown Christmas. It was the first scripture I memorized.
The main role of DNA molecules is the long-term storage of information. It is often compared to a set of blueprints, because it contains the instructions needed to construct life. The “Linus Passage” found in Luke’s Gospel contains the genetic blueprint for our ministry. What is its essence?
Jesus includes the outsider first: “… shepherds living out in the fields …”
At the time angels appeared to shepherds, the shepherds had not become romanticized by the religious world as they are now. They were just the working poor. If this story was contrived to make sense to the generation in which it was written, shepherds would not have been chosen as witnesses. The only way it makes sense is to understand that God desires to include outsiders. And, of course, Jesus included tax collectors and prostitutes as well as racial, religious and social outcasts. He scandalized Himself by including women as equals at that time. Every day He crossed boundaries, borders and barriers.
Then, Jesus embraces everyone: “… good tidings of great joy to all people …”
Most world religions are defined by geography and race. Not Christianity. It has grown up in all the cultural soil of the world. Why? Because the person of Christ is not culture-specific. In fact, here in the Post-Christian West we are struggling to contextualize the gospel in this new world in which we find ourselves, while Post-Western Christianity in the Global South is more like 1st-century faith than perhaps anything the church has witnessed since.
And finally, Jesus is History’s Redeemer: “… who is Christ the Lord.”
On August 16, 1987, Northwest Airlines flight 255 crashed just after taking off from the Detroit airport. There were 154 people on board, and only one person survived: a four-year-old from Tempe, Ariz., named Cecelia. (Two people on the ground were also killed.)
News accounts say when rescuers found Cecelia, they did not believe she had been on the plane. Investigators at first assumed she had been a passenger in one of the cars on the highway onto which the airliner crashed. But when the passenger register for the flight was checked, there was Cecelia’s name.
According to Bryan Chapell in his book In the Grip of Grace: When You Can’t Hold On (Baker Books), Cecelia survived because—even as the plane was falling—her mother, Paula Cichan, unbuckled her own seat belt, got down on her knees in front of her daughter, wrapped her arms and body around Cecelia, and then would not let her go.
This is Christmas. Jesus includes us, embraces us and saves us.
By: Sam Rockwell, Gateway District Supervisor