And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people… And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:7-14 KJV)
With the return of the whale population more koholā whale in Hawaiian can be seen visiting and giving birth to new life just off our Hawaiian shores. They come to us every year at the Advent of Christmas.
In our cultural stories, the koholā was the announcement of the return of the god of creation as evidenced with the return of the rain, which filled our fishponds and watered our sweet potato and kalo (taro) fields. It was the assurance of life returning to the land. It also ushered in the beginning of the time of peace. All wars between the chiefs and the islands ceased, and, in the season of peace, rest returned to the land and its people.
This season was also the beginning of the Makahiki. During this time, Hawaiians from all across the islands participated in the Makahiki games, our version of Olympic competition. This happened to be the very time of year when Captain James Cooke, the first foreigner, visited the Islands. He was mistaken as the god of peace because there was a story passed down through generations that the god of peace would return to Hawaii one day.
The angels in Luke announced to the shepherds the arrival of “The Christmas Lamb,” of the promised lamb who was to bring peace and finally end the war between man and God. The shepherds near Bethlehem often had lambs in the autumn and winter, so what a coincidence that the Lamb of God was born near them and they were the first to be told of Him by the angels and to see Him! They were the first to see the promised Lamb of God, our Messiah Jesus Christ that first Christmas.
Every year, my family and I look to the Pacific Ocean for the “Christmas whales” to arrive to be reminded that Jesus will be back someday.
What are the heavenly signs of creation near you that remind you about the coming of Christmas? Are there angels who come and herald to you as the koholā whales announce to us in Hawaii of Christmas and the peace of God to all the earth?
E Ke Akua ka mahalo ha’aha’a nei makou ia ‘oe no kou pomaika’i I kau kokua ‘ana, O God, we humbly thank you for your goodness in aiding us, and the brave missionaries that serve around the world who like the angles to the shepherds at Bethlehem herald your peace, and especially those who serve as your earthly angels to our First Nation people, in Lutheran Indian Ministries. Ma ka inoa o Iesu Kristo, In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.