"God, you can now release your servant;
release me in peace as you promised.
With my own eyes I've seen your salvation;
it's now out in the open for everyone to see:
A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations,
and of glory for your people Israel."
Jesus' father and mother were speechless with surprise
at these words. Simeon went on to bless them, and
said to Mary his mother,
"This child marks both the failure and
the recovery of many in Israel,
A figure misunderstood and contradicted--
the pain of a sword-thrust through you--
But the rejection will force honesty,
as God reveals who they really are."
II. "The Sun Comes Up" by Matthew
When Jesus got word that John had been arrested, he returned to Galilee.
He moved from his hometown, Nazareth, to the lakeside village Capernaum,
nestled at the base of the Zebulun and Naphtali hills.
This move completed Isaiah's sermon:
Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
road to the sea, over Jordan,
Galilee, crossroads for the nations.
People sitting out their lives in the dark
saw a huge light;
Sitting in the dark, dark country of death,
they watched the sun come up.
This Isaiah-prophesied sermon came to life in Galilee
the moment Jesus started preaching. He picked up where John left off:
"Change your life. God's Kingdom is here."
III. "The Real Drama" by Mark
John wore a camel-hair habit, tied at the waist
with a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild field honey.
As he preached he said,
"The real action comes next: The star in this drama,
to whom I'm a mere stagehand, will change your life.
I'm baptizing you here in the river,
turning your old life in for a kingdom life.
His baptism--a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit--
will change you from the inside out."
At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee
and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
The moment he came out of the water,
he saw the sky split open and God's Spirit,
looking like a dove, come down on him.
Along with the Spirit, a voice:
"You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love,
pride of my life."
IV. "The Life-Light" by John
The Life-Light was the real thing:
Every person entering Life
he brings into Light.
He was in the world,
the world was there through him,
and yet the world didn't even notice.
He came to his own people,
but they didn't want him.
But whoever did want him,
who believed he was who he claimed
and would do what he said,
These are the God-begotten,
The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.
These four selections come from the writers of the four biblical gospels: Luke, Matthew, Mark, and John. Each of them uses either poetic language, poetic form, or both to describe the significance of the Coming, the advent of the Christ. Each author presents a unique facet of Christmas, something worth meditating on during the season when we think it's all manger and swaddling cloths.
The paraphrases are taken from Eugene Peterson's The Message.