By Amanda M. Svejda
Daily Lectionary reading: Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14 (15-20)
Selected passage for reflection: Luke 2:6-20
Luke 2:6-20, New International Version
6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.
15 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.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 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 a dark night, out in the fields near Bethlehem, a group of shepherds went about their ordinary duties. As their known world was hushed with the rest of slumber, they navigated the stillness between dusk and dawn in the isolation of an open field. There, the sheep barely stirring, they watched carefully, scanning for threats of danger–poised to fight predators lurking in the cover of darkness.
Perhaps they could barely see a few feet ahead of them because of the thick blackness, with scarcely a hint of light from the stars above and only a faint glow from the town nearby. Maybe they rubbed their eyes, tired and struggling to stay alert, or shivered and pulled their garments close as the evening chill passed over them. Perhaps they huddled together and chatted idly, sometimes joking, enjoying the company of fellow herdsmen, well-familiar with each other and their common work.
While regular men tended flocks in the doldrums of their third shift routines, a young woman named Mary was giving birth to our Savior.
And so God visited shepherds in a field nearby and lit up the entire night sky–with an angel as messenger and the glory of God as brilliantly stunning light. The whole scene was so full of holiness and blinding light and extraordinary magnificence, that the shepherds were terrified. But then, in an instant– the comfort of an angel’s voice with a defining message that would give hope for all humanity–Don’t be afraid: This is good news! Good news that will bring great joy for all people. In the town of David a Savior has been born – He is Christ the Lord!
This is it. This is all we have ever dreamed of, needed, and hoped for! God has done it and we are filled with joy!
Spend some time in the quiet of your living room, phone off/silenced and lights off. Perhaps lit with only the glow of Christmas tree lights or a single candle. Allow yourself to close your eyes, get quiet, and be present to the Holy Spirit. Travel into the story as a shepherd in the field. Invite God into the dark and lonely places of your life. Believe and wait for the long-awaited hope. He is coming. The Lord is near. The Lord loves you. The Lord is breaking every yoke or rod of oppression upon you. Spend some time basking in the presence of the Lord of Love and Grace, who breaks into our darkness with inextinguishable light.
Spend time in the arms of the amazing, loving God who breaks into the routine, humble and low places to accomplish the indescribable.
Listen to songs like Josh Groban’s “Angels We Have Heard on High” (featuring Brian McKnight) and praise the Lord!
Lord, thank you for the immeasurably wonderful gift of your Son Jesus Christ. Tonight, today, and always, may we still ourselves to know, meditate upon, and experience the surpassing greatness of your love and grace. Help us, in our ordinary days, to never miss the wonder of who You are. To give you all the honor and glory and praise, as we celebrate Christmas, and remember that You truly are the Light in our darkness. May the words of Isaiah be our prayer and our praise:
New Living Translation
2 The people who walk in darkness
will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
a light will shine.
You will enlarge the nation of Israel,
and its people will rejoice.
They will rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest
and like warriors dividing the plunder.
For you will break the yoke of their slavery
and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders.
You will break the oppressor’s rod,
just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian.
5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
About the Author
Amanda Svejda lives just north of Chicago and is married to her best friend and favorite humorist, Joey. She is also a dog mom to sweet Kona, who teaches her about unconditional love and the power of a good treat at an opportune time. She is a daughter of God, seeking to deepen her understanding and embrace this powerful truth. In recent years, she has focused on learning to go back to the basics that seem so straightforward - quiet prayer; gratitude; and ultimately, to love the Lord with all her heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love her neighbor as herself. Her greatest hope is for all people to know and reclaim the true image of God in their lives, both in how they experience God and God’s love, how they view themselves, and how they relate to others.