God became one of us so we
could become one with him.
The joy and promise of Christmas is that the miracle of Bethlehem still happens. God still interest into the reality of our messy every day lives and loves us. And so on this day, we open wide our hearts to receive the Christ child with joy.
Questions for Reflection
1. Luke's account of Jesus's birth include several characters and lots of action:
Mary and Joseph undertake a long journey under adverse conditions.
The Christ child is born in a humble stable.
The angel of the Lord brings good news of great joy to the shepherds.
The heavenly host praising God.
The shepherds were initially afraid but then receive and share the good news.
All who hear the good news are amazed.
Mary treasures up in ponders all she has experienced.
• As you read the passage from Luke too, which characters or circumstances best represent you in your relationship with Jesus right now? For example, like Mary and Joseph, perhaps you find yourself in the midst of a difficult journey with Christ, seeking shelter and rest. Like the Christ child, you may be in humble or vulnerable circumstances, longing for comfort and care.
• How does the character or circumstance you identified help you understand what you Longfore in your relationship with Christ?
2. Luke pointed out a compelling contrast when he noted that "all who heard it were amazed.... But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:18, 19, emphasis mine).
• To be amazed is to be astonished, surprised, or stunned. Depending on the circumstances, amazement might lead to admiration and wonder, or to shock and bewilderment. The contrast Luke identified between Mary and "all who were amazed" doesn't suggest that Mary's response was better, but it was noticeably different. Based on your own experiences, how would you describe the difference between the two experiences? What changes in you when you move from being amazed at the experience to treasuring or pondering that experience? What
• The Greek word translated "treasured up" and "pondered," mean to keep safe and close, to protect and preserve in their memory, to bring together in ones mind or to confer with oneself. During the four weeks of Advent, yo've had a chance to reflect on many truths about the gifts we received from--hope, peace, joy, and love. As you reflect on this four week journey, what--with God and others--do you want to treasure up? Briefly identify a few, and then allow yourself to ponder them in God's presence, thanking him for these gifts and inviting him to reveal to you something of himself through them.
3. If the king is willing to enter the world of animals and shepherds in swaddling cloths, don't you think he is willing to enter yours? He took on your face in the hole that you would see his.
• As you anticipate not only your celebration of Christmas but also the days and weeks to come, and what circumstance or relationship do you feel the greatest need to see the face of Immanuel, God with you?
• "When Christ was born, so was our.... The manger... Dares us to believe the best is yet to be. And it could all begin today". What is the best you might dare to believe about the circumstance or relationship you just identified? Prayerfully surrender these hopes to God, trusting that he is already at work to provide the light you seek, the help you need, the deliverance you long for.
Welcome, Lord Jesus. Make my heart your home this day.
God created celebration: he is the author of joy, pleasure, and merriment. In fact, Jesus describe the kingdom as a great banquet to which everyone is invited (Matthew 22:1-14). At Christmas we train our hearts for heaven by celebrating God's miraculous gift of Jesus. And just as Paul and Silas chose to sing praises even while in prison (Acts 16:22-25), we can choose joy and celebration at Christmas regardless of our circumstance. Author and Pastor Adele Calhoun wrote:
The world is filled with reasons to be down cast. But deeper than sorrow thrums the unbroken pulse of God's joy, a joy that well yet have its eternal day. To set our hearts on this joy reminds us that we can choose how to respond to any particular moment. We can search for God in all circumstances, or not. We can seek the pulse of hope in celebration because it is God's reality. Heaven is.... Every small experience of Jesus with us is a taste of the joy that is to come we are not alone--and that in itself is the reason to celebrate.
God invite you to choose joy this day, to follow the happy commands of the Psalmist: sing! Praise! Proclaim! Declare! Worship! (See Psalms 96). Think of it this way:
For your own sake do what the angels did: make a big deal out of the arrival of the king.... Do you love God? Let him know. Tell him! Out loud. In public. Unashamed. Let there be jubilation, celebration, and festivity!
And you can choose joy in quiet Waze as well. Be watchful for "every small experience of Jesus," knowing that he often shows up in unexpected ways. Treasure up and ponder all the ways Christ reveals himself to you--in events, music, meals, relationships, beauty, and the comfort of his presence with you.
HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SING
Hark! The Herald Angels sing,
glory to the newborn King;
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!
Joyful, all you nations rise,
join the triumph of the skies;
nature rise and worship him
who is born in Bethlehem!
Christ, by highest heaven adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord;
late in time, behold him come,
offspring of a virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail th'incarnate Diety
Pleas'd as Man with Men t'appear,
Jesus our Emmanuel here.
Hail the Heav'n-born Prince of Peace
hail the son of Righteousness!
Light and Life around he brings, Ris'n with Healing in His Wings
Mild he lays his Glory by,
Born that Men no more may die;
Born to raise the Sons of Earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Lyrics: Charles Wesley, 1713 and George Whitefield 1753
The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.
1 John 1:14 MSG
I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior--yes, the Messiah, the Lord--has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!
Luke 2:10-11 NLT
For this is how God loved the world: he gave his one and only son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 NLT
You always get your Christmas miracle. You get God with you...
Christ is all your good, and he is all yours, and this is always all your miracle.
No matter the baroness you feel, you can always have as much of Jesus as you want.
And Voskamp, The Greatest Gift
The eternal son became a child so that I might become a child again and so re-enter with him into the kingdom of the Father.
Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son
Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world.
The perfect gift is that he gave his only Son.
The only requirement is to believe in him.
The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life.
attributed to Corrie ten Boom