Luke 2: 15-24
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses,Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
What is the best gift you will receive today?
In many ways someone reading this in Syria is more likely to quickly identify the answer the whole of Advent prepares us for, than those of us about to disappear underneath a sea of wrapping paper and material gifts.
Today is Christmas Day. Plan A is we receive the light of the world, Jesus Christ, more deeply into our hearts than ever before.
Does this mean we can all reclaim a piece of Christmas in our heart by doing absolutely nothing? In one sense the answer is yes! Paul tells us we receive the grace of God as ‘God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it’ (Ephesians 2:9). We can’t earn this particular gift and certainly none of us deserve it.
In another sense, however, the answer is no, not when it comes to the gifts of life, which have the capacity to transform us.
- I have spurned wonderful gifts (we’ve now moved away from socks and chocolates) because of my selfishness and pride
- I’ve passed by the opportunity of forgiveness because I couldn’t accept I needed it
- I’ve spurned the offer of peace because I preferred to struggle on and try and prove I could achieve it myself
- I’ve turned away from love because I’ve not recognised I couldn’t earn it
Now what about you? When have you not received what has been offered?
Sometimes the things we bring get in the way of us receiving the greatest of gifts. The Shepherds could have played the whole false humility gig and walked home, refusing to believe the angels meant what they said. They could have decided to not enter the stable and come under the spotlight of the grace and glory of God, thinking they were too dirty, smelly and unworthy. Instead ‘the shepherds went back, singing praises to God for all they had heard and seen; it had been just as the angel had told them’. To receive the gift of God we provide nothing but an open heart.
One thing I know; those Shepherds and everyone else caught up in this wonderful story ever since, can never see anything in their life, or another’s, the same way – ever again.
|Prayer: Dear Lord. Thank you for getting me to the place when all I need to do is hold out my hands and open my heart to you. Establish/restore in me the joy of my salvation, which receiving you begins. Help me to fully ‘unwrap’ your gift, not leave you in the stable, but be Lord in practice over every part of my life now and always.
Help me to re-focus my whole life and fix my eyes upon you.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Thank you for taking this journey through advent, ‘Practising for Christmas’ with Seventy-two, we hope it’s helped you to keep Jesus at the forefront through this busy time.
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But in the meantime: Merry Christmas!