In the juxtaposition of the John and Jesus birth stories, we see God’s movement between earth and the cosmic realm. The neighbors and relatives who rejoice over John’s birth are overshadowed by the more universal and expansive cosmic responses to Jesus’ birth. God’s movement is also shown in the religio-political repercussions of Jesus’ birth. The registration of “all the world” asserts Caesar Augustus’s sovereignty over that world””but the birth of God’s son is made known not to the emperor or even the governor, but instead to peasant shepherds. Jesus’ birth shows that God is on the move to dethrone the powerful and lift up the lowly. The census, even in Luke’s day, presupposed registration in the place of a person’s residence, not their hometown. But God is on the move, and Luke has Mary and Joseph travel from historical Nazareth to messianic Bethlehem.
Ironically, the one who will ascend the throne of David enters the world homeless. Forced to place her baby in a feeding trough, Mary improvises a solution for the cool night by wrapping him in cloths. Throughout the Gospel of Luke, Jesus continues to lack a permanent home. Luke’s Jesus, like Luke’s God, is constantly on the move.
Even before his birth, as an unborn child Jesus travels from Mary’s home in Nazareth to her cousin Elizabeth’s home and then back to Nazareth. The shepherds live in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks. The angels appear to them suddenly””movement by the heavenly host! Then with haste, we are told, the shepherds move to go find Mary and Joseph and the child. Through their actions, all involved demonstrate the appropriate response to the movement of the omnipotent God, who is determined to bring a savior into the world.
This season ought to remind us that we are not the only ones who are busy. God is always busy, in the best way, for us.
—Christian Century (December 7, 2016), p.18