By Rev. Alicia Vela
Daily Lectionary reading: Isaiah 62:6-12, Psalm 97, Titus 3:4-7, Luke 2:(1-7), 8-20
Selected passage for reflection: : Luke 2:8-20
Luke 2:8-20 (CEB)
Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night. The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were terrified.
The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.”
When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go right now to Bethlehem and see what’s happened. Let’s confirm what the Lord has revealed to us.” They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw this, they reported what they had been told about this child. Everyone who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds told them. Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. The shepherds returned home, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Everything happened just as they had been told.
Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. Even in years when I have had to travel from one city to another on Christmas day, there was something magical about celebrating Christmas Eve with my church family and still making it to Christmas dinner with my family. For many years I have been a long distant aunt to three amazing girls and a godmother to one. Not having any children of my own, I’ve loved seeing Christmas through their eyes. The anticipation of the presents, the smiles and disbelief when they open a present they weren’t expecting but hoping for. I know that Christmas isn’t meant to be about presents, but there is a deep joy that comes from a child receiving a gift they had long hoped for but weren’t sure it would be under the tree.
I wonder if God was watching the shepherds with a swell of joy when they heard the news of Jesus’s arrival. The shepherds felt this immediate praise and relief bubble up upon hearing that their long awaited savior had been born. They knew the prophecies, they knew what a baby born in the city of David meant - the promised prince of peace, wonderful counselor, and the one who would reign forever was finally here.
I often wonder also what the walk back to the fields had been like, after they told everyone they saw. As they wound down for the night, the sky returned to the normal darkness, were they wondering what was coming in the future? The result wouldn’t be immediate, after all, the savior was still a baby - he would have to grow up before getting down to the work of bringing the justice and righteousness that had been promised. Were they going to sleep that night discussing what the world may look like in a couple of generations?
Even if their day-to-day wouldn’t change completely, the birth of the Messiah was God delivering on a promise made long ago to the people of God. The hope that was taking root in the hearts of the Shepherds. Everything had changed, new life brought hope and promise, but life didn’t look that different yet.
Where in your life is hope starting to take root? Is there something you’ve been waiting on, hoping for, anticipating that doesn’t feel fully realized yet? I encourage you to take some time with God to remember that changes sometimes don't happen all at once. Sometimes there’s a small sprout that’s waiting to be noticed, a reminder that God is indeed with you and fulfilling all the promises God has made.
Thank you, Lord, for the small reminders of your promises. Thank you that your glory can come in rushes of water and slight breezes. Reveal yourself to us today, in the quiet moments of our celebrations, may we remember that you came to earth as a baby, swaddled and sleeping - giving hope and reminders of your presence with us.
About the Author
Alicia is a Colorado native who found her heart home in MN. She’s passionate about helping young people see God at work in their lives and in the world around them. She spends her days teaching Middle School Bible in the Twin Cities. You can find her on social media as @aliciavelaanderson