One of the Gospel readings this year for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services is from St Luke’s Gospel.
You can read more about Luke 2 in these posts:
The Christmas story in Luke’s Gospel (hermeneutics)
The painting above dates from 1622. It is called Adoration of the Shepherds. Gerard (Gerrit) van Honthorst, a Dutch Golden Age painter, studied in Italy and took his influences from Caravaggio’s use of chiaroscuro, as you can see from the way the light plays on the Holy Family and the shepherds.
You can read more about Honthorst here.
This Christmas season has brought with it a number of news stories, including the British cinema ban of a 45-second Nativity advertisement, ‘Christmas starts with the power of Love’. This follows the ban of an advert featuring the Lord’s Prayer a few months ago.
The news has also given us several special prayer intentions for Christmas, especially the persecution of Christians in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Persecution.org has many articles about our brothers and sisters who will experience a less than happy day.
ChristianExaminer reports that Indonesia has closed 1,000 churches since the country’s ‘religious harmony’ law was passed in 2006. Churches have been the subject of attack by Muslim extremists. In order to rebuild them or to build brand new churches, Christians must obtain a permit, which involves collecting 60 signatures from non-Christians as well as permission from local authorities. No one should be surprised to find that such permits are rarely granted. Banda Aceh has only three churches now. All 29 churches in the province of West Java have been forcibly closed.
Brunei, the country on the island of Borneo, has banned Christmas. The Telegraph reports that the Sultan of Brunei has declared that celebrating the birth of Christ is dangerous to the faith of Muslims. (Two-thirds of people living in Brunei are Muslim.) Christmas carols and decorations are forbidden. Although communities can supposedly arrange Christmas celebrations, they must notify their local authority first. The Telegraph reminds us that, last year, the Sultan introduced Sharia criminal law with all its horrors. Those who wish to show their disapproval can refuse to stay or book events at the Sultan’s Dorchester Collection of hotels, which include the Dorchester in London, Le Meurice in Paris, the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles and Il Principe in Milan.