二○二○年十二月十二日/十三日                                                                                                Click here for English version




現在常見的,是口罩、隔板、Zoom 和確診數字;是凍薪、減薪、裁員,還有停課、停業和結業;缺去了旅行和自由行,卻多了親友、弟兄姊妹計劃和申請移民。在如此氛圍下,怎會有真正的喜樂?擔心、灰心、不開心,才是真實的。

然而,2000 多年前基督降生的歷史事件,讓我們知道當時的伯利恆城雖然處境嚴峻,但從天上來的喜樂仍然無遠弗屆,在那似乎不為人知的角落裡「發揚光大」。

當時希律在羅馬帝國的政權下作猶太人的王,聽到從東方來的占星家問他:「那生下來作猶太人之王的在哪裡呢?我們看見祂的星升起,所以前來朝拜祂。」(太二 2,新漢語)他便深感不安,於是查問全城宗教領袖,知道基督生於伯利恆,就想除掉祂(最後把當地兩歲及以下的男孩全部殺掉)。在不安與肅殺的陰霾下,那顆升起的星引領占星家走到耶穌所在之處。聖經說:「當他們看見那顆星,便
極其歡喜快樂!」(二 10,自譯) 對他們來說,那顆星象徵對基督的盼望;他們成功「追星」,找到「那躺在馬槽裡的嬰孩」(路二 16,新漢語),便心滿意足,大大喜樂。相反,位高權重的希律和熟讀經書的宗教領袖,因著缺乏對基督的祈盼而與喜樂無分。

同一個晚上,在伯利恆城近郊,一些正在當夜班的牧羊人突然被主的榮光四面照耀,因而大為驚恐——在四野無人的漆黑中突然閃出來歷不明的「使者」和強光,怎不害怕呢?在恐慌中,他們聽到這位使者說:「不要怕!因為看啊!我報給你們一個大喜訊,那是關乎萬民的:今天,在大衛的城裡,為你們誕生了一位救主,就是主基督。」(二 10-11,自譯)忽然,一隊來自雲端的天軍加入,同頌「在至高之處榮耀歸於神!在地上平安臨到祂所喜愛的人!」(二 14,新漢語)



Pastor's Sharing
The Great Joy from Heaven to Bethlehem That Night
Rev Patrick Wong

Where is joy? Can we still see or experience it in the current circumstances?

All around us, we see masks, shields, Zoom, numbers of confirmed cases, salary freezes or reductions, lay-offs, class suspensions, shop and business closures. No more travels, no tourists, but more talk about and applications for emigration. In such an atmosphere, where is real joy? Anxiety, frustration and sadness is more real.

The historical event of the birth of Christ more than 2,000 years ago sheds light on this question. That night, the little town of Bethlehem was in difficulty. But then in that little known corner of the world, there came heavenly joy that reaches afar.

Herod, as King of the Jews under the Roman Empire, was asked by the Magi from the east, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2). Herod was troubled. After he had learned from the chief priests and scribes that Christ was to be born in Bethlehem, he instructed that all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under be killed. Yet amid all the gloom and impending massacre, the star of Bethlehem led the Magi to Jesus. The Bible says: “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed” (2:10). To them, the star embodied their hope for Christ. They “found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger” (Luke 2:16). They were content and rejoiced greatly. Not so for King Herod and the learned religious leaders who did not pin hopes in Christ.

The same night in the suburbs of Bethlehem, the glory of the Lord shone round about some night-shift shepherds in the field, and they were sore afraid – How can one not be scared when an angel appeared in the darkness out of the blue? When they were still in panic, they heard the angel say, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (2:10-11). And suddenly a great company of the heavenly host joined in praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests” (2:14).

That heavenly message of joy was only sent to a group of anonymous, humble shepherds who kept watch near Bethlehem. They were like the security staff and night-shift convenient store shopkeepers of today. But they became the first group to “qualify” for receiving heavenly peace and were loved by God. Joy surpasses adversities and the pandemic. It also has nothing to do with reputation, money or power from the perspective of the world.

This Christmas, may everyone in different corners see the star of hope and hear the soul-soothing carol “Silent Night.” May they be filled with the joy that comes with an encounter with Christ.