Luke 2: 1-20

Christmas Eve

Rev. Dr. Rev. Dr. Niveen Ibrahim Sarras

Christmas Eve, Luke 2: 1-20

December 24, 2020


Christ is born! Glorify Him!

This holy night is an unprecedented night for all of us. It is the first time in our lifetime, we celebrate the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ during a pandemic. COVID-19 has changed our lives. We have restrictions on our lifestyle and freedom. Most of the stores require wearing masks. Not all churches have in-person Christmas Eve worship service. Indoor Christmas gatherings with people from outside our household are not recommended. We have been affected badly by COVID-19. Many people have lost their jobs, and many tenants have been evicted from their homes despite CDC locked evictions.

Amid our frustration and fear, The FDA announced the good news of great joy for all nations. To you are born Pfizer and Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines, are effective at preventing COVID-19. The FDA's announcement echoes the angel's proclamation to the shepherds of the Messiah's birth, the Lord. The shepherds were ordinary people like you and me. They were exhausted by many diseases and poverty. For the shepherds, the worst disease was not COVID-19, but the Roman military occupation of their land, Palestine. The Romans stripped the Jews of their humanhood by reducing them to a state close to slaves.

The context of the Nativity of Christ might disappoint you. We have romanticized Christmas by ignoring its context to make Jesus politically pious and feel good about ourselves when we do not challenge the oppressive status quo in our communities and the world. Colonization and occupation are the contexts of the Nativity of Christ. The evangelist Luke put the birth of Christ in the context of Emperor Augustus, who ordered the census, and Quirinius carried the order because he was the governor of Syria.

Judaea was an autonomous part of the Roman province of Syria, ruled by a prefect. Quirinius was ordered to organize the taxation of the new prefecture. Until then, taxes had been paid in kind [that is with goods or services rather than money]. However, during the census which Quirinius organized, the inhabitants were required to declare their property in money. There are no indications that the Roman money taxes were higher than the taxes they replaced, but taxes in money were more onerous than taxes in kind because a farmer had to borrow in case of a poor harvest.[1]


The shepherds, Mary and Joseph, the prophetess Anna and prophet Simeon were ordinary people like you and me. They were exhausted by the Romans' unjust taxes. They were anticipating God to save them from their sins and their enemies, the Romans, and to restore the kingdom of David. The Romans humiliated the Jews daily. The only way out was for God to intervene. God did intervene by sending Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to redeem them from their sins and show the Jews and us how to use nonviolence to resist their enemies, advocate for justice, and support the poor. Jesus did not separate his life and ministry from the Romans' colonization of the Jews. Christ himself was colonized.  He also peacefully resisted the Jewish leaders who complied with Rome's imperialism.


As of old times as now, Jesus comes to heal us from our brokenness and sustain us in our difficult moments. His birth was and still a sign of God's intervention to end oppression and injustice. It is also a sign of God's desire to reconcile with human beings by liberating us from sin and death. Jesus comes to tell you that you are not alone in fighting this pandemic, but he is fighting it with you. Jesus is born to redeem us from sin and the systemic sin that prevents poor communities to have an equal distribution of food and medicine like the COVID-19 vaccine.


The mystery of the birth of the Christ, "Emmanu-el is born, means to assure us that it is into our insecure and troubled life that Jesus comes again and again."[2] In your sickness, poverty, and fear, Christ is born for you. His birth has transformed the world, and it can transform your life, too. You might be like me, weary of coronavirus, or sad because you lost a loved one this year. For people like you and me, Christ is born. You might be struggling to make ends meet. Christ is born to sustain you and inspire us to work together to make ends meet for everyone and for everyone to have an abundance.


Jesus' birth is much more than cookies, Christmas decorations, a nice Christmas dinner, or gifts. It is about the incarnated God whose intention is to be in fellowship with you and to sustain you in your troubles. It is about the incarnated God who wants to work with you to make this world a kingdom of God on earth where everyone has enough food. Our Lord Jesus became a human being to work with you to wipe away each other’s tears, hold each other's hands, walk with the weary, speak peace to each other, and comfort one another.

This year we were bold in expressing our political views regarding the presidential election. Many people put their choice for presidential candidate signs in their front yard. When it comes to our faith, we are not bold. I noticed that two of our neighbors put Jesus' name on a sign in their front yard. The sign says Jesus 2020 with Democrats and Republicans colors—red and blue.  The signage of Jesus 2020 declares that Jesus is the center of life. I invite you to be bold in expressing your faith in Christ, as you are proactive in telling your political views. People are tired of politics and COVID-19. They need to hear about hope, peace, joy, and love. Politicians are unable to give you these four things. Only Jesus Christ, Son of God, can provide you with hope, peace, joy, and love. Therefore, share Christ with the world. People are hungry to hear the good news about the love of God for them. So be the messengers of Jesus Christ to the world.

Christ is born! Glorify him!