December 20, 2016 – January 2, 2017

WORD

8In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.  12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”  13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”  15When 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.”  16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.  17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.  19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.  20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Luke 2:8-20

Reading Scripture to Know:

  • What is happening/being said? (Observation)
  • Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
  • What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
  • What does it mean? (Understanding)
  • What does it mean for us? (Application)

Reading Scripture to Grow:

  • What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
  • Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
  • How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
  • How does this Scripture reveal God?
  • How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
  • What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?

Reflection: 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. 

God did not wait for some highly important moment, by our standards, to bring the Messiah to the world.  The incarnation (the coming of the eternal Son of God to the world as a human being) would be characterized by all of the rough and mundane aspects of humanity.  Thus, God broke into life at its simplest and basest levels.  The coming of the Anointed One would affect our daily living and save us from our deepest, most private hurts, sorrows, and struggles.  The gospel would be a grassroots movement.  Therefore, its first audience was not kings or dignitaries, but shepherds out in the fields working.

This means that no matter where we find ourselves or what we find ourselves doing, the gospel – the good news of peace and glory coming from God to us – is for us.  No matter who we are or who the world says we are, this Christ child is for us.  No one is excluded.  No one is too lowly.  No one is overlooked.  Just as in the image above, the Christ child abides in love within whatever situation you find yourself in today.

So many benefits of our society are exclusive.  God’s kingdom is for all who will come, all who will listen, all who will respond.  God’s kingdom is available to you today wherever you are and whoever you are.  This is the promise of Christmas.  Will you respond and go with joy to find the Christ child today, wherever and with whomever he might be?  The glory of the Lord shows up in some mighty strange places, even in the middle of sheep pastures.  Where will you find the glory of the present King today?

Daily Readings: 

  • Tuesday, December 20– 1 Samuel 22
  • Wednesday, December 21 – 1 Samuel 23
  • Thursday, December 22 – 1 Samuel 24
  • Friday, December 23 – 1 Samuel 25
  • Saturday, December 24 – 1 Samuel 26
  • Sunday, December 25 – 1 Samuel 27
  • Monday, December 26 –  1 Samuel 28
  • Tuesday, December 27– 1 Samuel 29
  • Wednesday, December 28 – 1 Samuel 30
  • Thursday, December 29 – 2 Samuel 1
  • Friday, December 30 – 2 Samuel 2
  • Saturday, December 31 – 2 Samuel 3
  • Sunday, January 1 – 2 Samuel 4
  • Monday, January 2 –  2 Samuel 5

SPIRIT

Prayer Focus: To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.

At the very foundation of Christmas is the promise of a Savior.  Christmas was intended for our salvation.  That salvation is a salvation from our sins, our sorrows, the injustices and injuries we have endured, our brokenness, and our desperation.  That salvation is a salvation to forgiveness, new life, freedom from sin, healing, deliverance, and hope.  Pray this week for the salvation of the world and for us all.  Ask God that we might continue to receive the salvation Christ came to bring every day.  Salvation is a constant offer, not a one-time deal we make with God.  Be saved today and pray that the salvation the Christ child came to bring might be known in every corner of your life, of this community, and of the world.

Meditation Focus: But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.

What have been those special experiences of faith and communion with God in Jesus Christ that you have treasured in your heart and which you still ponder?  How have those experiences given you strength and comfort in difficult times?  How have those experiences fueled your faith?  Remember one or two of those special, definitive spiritual moments in your life when God did an amazing work of love and grace in your life and when you felt a deep, lasting communion with God.  Relive the moment and place yourself back in that time and place within your sanctified imagination.  What was God doing?  What did you need from God in that moment?  How did God show up?  The same God who so mightily revealed Godself to you in that instance is with you now.  How might this day become a special, treasured experience of faith and communion?

Journaling Focus: When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child.

What do you know to be true about this child of Christmas?  How would you describe the significance of Jesus and Christmas to someone who had no familiarity with either?  What significance does Jesus have to you?  Pause this week and consider the true meaning of Christmas and the impact that first Christmas has had on you and the world.  How might you carry the Christ child and his message into the world once the Christmas season has concluded?  How might you use these twelve days of Christmas (the days of the true Christmas season, from December 25 until Epiphany on January 6) to make known what you have experienced of Jesus?

Breath Prayer: Father, bring us to Christ.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

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