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Environmental Stewardship Commission

Episcopal Church in Minnesota

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We meet quarterly close to the solstice and equinox.

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Resolution on the Spirituality of Food Production

Resolution on Church Buildings and Grounds

Resolution on Creation Season

Resolution on Green Congregations


Lectionary Reflection

Christmas I [all years]

Gospel Reading

Luke 2: 1-14 (15-20)
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah,* the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth 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 heaven,
    and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’*
[ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.]


Reflection on Luke 2: 1-14 (15-20)
by John G. Gibbs, PhD

Worship embraces world. The first Hymnbook of God's People sings repeated variations of that theme. "O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. – Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord–" (Ps. 96:11-12).

Luke's Birth Story takes up this tradition, and here too worship embraces world. Jesus' cradle is accompanied by starlit fields, shepherd, flocks of sheep, even a special heavenly visitation by an angel. A child "wrapped in bands of cloth" is also wrapped in the sounds of cosmic acclamation when "a multitude of the heavenly host" sings: "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors" (Luke 2:13-14).


Printable version

To Reflections on other RCL Readings for Christmas I (Primary Service), All Years:

Reflections available at the active links
Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Reading
New Testament Reading:
Titus 2: 11-14
Gospel (this page):
Luke 2: 1-14 (15-20)

John G. Gibbs, PhD, a retired theologian, attended Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN, when he originally wrote this reflection in 1998.  He and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:

c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

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