Advent 2013: Day

The shepherds go to the manger

by

Today's Text: Luke 2:8-20

Text: Luke 2:8-20

The Shepherds Go to the Manger

Reflection

Imagine you are a shepherd, you’re caring for your flock by the light of the moon.
Imagine you are a shepherd and, suddenly, you’re visited by an angel and surrounded by the glory of the Lord.
Imagine you hear the angel telling you that a very important baby King has been born.
And, as the angel leaves, you and your shepherd friends decide to seek this King out.
Imagine you are there, you are in the stable with Mary and Joseph. What do you see? Look around.
Do you wonder how a King could be born in such a lowly place?
Are you comforted that the King of Kings is not in accommodations far superior to yours?
You see that worn out mama, bending low to her baby boy.
You have words for her about her sweet Son, words spoken to you by the angel of God.
You whisper them to her, and she stores them up just for herself.

You, a lowly shepherd, responsible for a flock of sheep, have just encountered the living, breathing, baby boy God on Earth.

How does life return to normal for you?

And really, how does life return to normal after an encounter with Jesus?

Verse 20 says that they praised and glorified God for all they had heard and seen, and I wonder if that is true of us?

When we encounter Jesus, are we full of praise and glory for God?

And the shepherds praised Him

Prayer

A Christmas Prayer, from the Book of Common Prayer

Almighty God,
who hast given us thy only-begotten Son
to take our nature upon him
and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin:
Grant that we, being regenerate
and made thy children by adoption and grace,
may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit;
through the same our Lord Jesus Christ,
who liveth and reigneth with thee
and the same Spirit ever,
one God, world without end. Amen.

Advent Action

As the shepherds came empty handed but awed, let us bow down and worship only to rise from our knees to go and share the wondrous things we have seen and heard. Visit a nursing home or hospital, participate in serving Christmas dinner at a homeless shelter, invite those without family in your community to your table for a Christmas meal. There are plenty of hearts who need to hear the good news of the gospel today. To quote St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”

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For an added layer of worship and study, we chose a beloved Christmas song for each day of our Advent plan. We invite you to listen to Good Christian Men Rejoice today as we dwell on the truth of God’s word together.

  • Amsterdam Beer Bike

    Wow! this is one of my favorite blog of the day in all the search I did in my PC.

  • confused

    All I’m saying is look into it more…that’s all and I thank you for your input..I’m going to pray on it more and you can too. I am tghankful for His birth of course but no where in scripture is it telling us to observe it..but you pray about it as I will pray about it. I asked an open question that’s all. If you feel lead to celebrate it okay. It was just an open question..not trying to be rude but just want truth…too many false teachers and doctrines and. If Jesus doesn’t say for us to celebrate His “birthday” then I’m not doing it..God bless you all and I pray God opens your eyes to His truth which is His word. God. Bless.

  • confused

    Thanks for your input brandi but I would celebrate it if christmas has anything to with the birth of christ. I think people celebrate it out of traditions of men and not understading the true meaning of christmas. It derived from the catholic church and what did the catholic church do? They twist things so it can look like the truth. Jesus said do these things in remembrance of me. How can we celebrate “christmas” if Jesus never told us when He was. Born? People choose to believe the lie because it fills good to them but its all proproganda. Research for yourself sister and please pray and ask God if He wants you to celebrate this pagan holiday. Lastly if “christmas” is suppose to mean birth of christ why does it mean death of Christ? We follow traditions of men and not look int the bible ourselves and then try to justify our actions bu twisting the scripture. In luke 2 they rejoiced because He is a king. They brought frank incense and myrrh to honour Him as the coming King. It doesn’t say to observe it…God bless you all and I hope one day you can see the truth.

    • Brandi

      Definitely something to pray about. Thank you!

    • mazmagi54 (Peggy)

      Blessings Confused … Asking and inquiring is good in all due respect, it's how we learn and grow. Denying, questioning beliefs or doubting however is not. The Bible verses that have been shared are good! Clearly, we need more substance for your discussion of your open input, but it really is a matter of faith as well and SRT is not a forum for debate but honesty and encouragement. I hope that you see my comment as well intended and spoken in love. The truth is revealed to each of us by the Holy Spirit!

      Part 1

      I just want to somewhat correct your statement on the catholic church(having been raised as a Roman Catholic but no longer one, I'm Pentecostal now) being the original (or derived from them) … Yes, they did in part but it comes from a pagan holiday that they wanted to replace with one that was Christ centered (that's the short of it as they do in other traditions and celebrations). And No, the Bible does not tell us to celebrate or NOT to celebrate specific days. And although someone responded making light of this, they are right!. We do many things daily not written in the Bible, but it is how we live (not speaking of the sinful ones or lack of omission ones).

      Many do this out of tradition and respect. I do or have all of my almost 60 years of life celebrated Christmas! I'm not confused but most certain of the One I celebrate and remember on this day. He was born into this world and came at a great cost, which I express my love and gratitude to the Father for Jesus Christ, who humbly came into this world (recorded in all the gospels) and the "day" does not matter to me as much as WHO I celebrate! And the reason I celebrate is because HE LIVES in each of us and comes near to us as we draw near to Him humbly, reverently and in awe of a tiny "baby" that none might fear, who are in desperate need of a Savior, a Messiah! To not acknowledge HIS COMING would mean I may not acknowledge HIS SACRIFICE and GIVING and being RAISED from the dead, as a VICTORY over sin and death (mine).

      Different religions/denominations have shared much on this topic. We must always take a look at the source and I go to God (Holy Spirit within) as my ultimate Source and the conviction I feel within. Anyone can "google" the origin of Christmas to find out more but we must also be careful of the sources. I recently received a pdf link via email or my blog on this (I put it aside and have not yet read it all. It is from the United Church of God): http://www.ucg.org/files/booklets/pdf/holidays-or

      “The earliest reference to Christmas being marked on Dec. 25 comes from the second century after Jesus' birth. It is considered likely the first Christmas celebrations were in reaction to the Roman Saturnalia, a harvest festival that marked the winter solstice—the return of the sun—and honored Saturn, the god of sowing. Saturnalia was a rowdy time, much opposed by the more austere leaders among the still-minority Christian sect. Christmas developed, one scholar says, as a means of replacing worship of the sun with worship of the Son. By 529 A.D., after Christianity had become the official state religion of the Roman Empire, Emperor Justinian made Christmas a civic holiday. The celebration of Christmas reached its peak—some would say its worst moments—in the medieval period when it became a time for conspicuous consumption and unequaled revelry.”

      (as usual, I wrote too much and need to separate into two parts)

      • mazmagi54 (Peggy)

        Part 2

        We can find arguments (open minded discussions) on both sides but we must respect one another in love! Jesus Christ did come into this world. I might refer you back to what "Candacejo"(1st comment) wrote about this when she ended with she's thankful for Christmas!

        Anyways, I am not trying to sell you on celebrating Christmas or "NOT" but more of seeking Jesus Christ and His Truth, His promises to us, in His Word (the Bible) as you have asked honestly for Bible verses to verify this (as I concurred previously, there aren't).

        Even these verses:
        http://www.openbible.info/topics/celebrating_chri
        will not really support celebrating but perhaps your perspective. We share in the belief of Emmanuel "God with us" the intent of this study or reading God's Word together to encourage one another in seeking God's truth as revealed to us (as you wrote: "research it yourself"). Thank you for your openness!

        As for me, this article clears it up the best and my own conviction of celebrating God as the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end; means I set aside a special time for me (not necessarily with all the other propaganda of Christmas or even my family traditions or the other "rights or wrongs" of the holiday, such as tree, etc. but look for the good, stayed focused on Jesus and His Light to us) https://bible.org/article/should-christians-celeb

        "We also need to remember that Scripture does promise rewards for godly behavior or faithfulness for believers in Christ. Salvation is a gift through faith alone in Christ alone, but crowns, metonomy for rewards, are promised for faithful and obedient living (1 Pet. 5:4)."

        I debated whether I would enter into this but God's Spirit told me, if I don't, who will and in no way, "am I ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ" … and in no way, am I judging you and anyone else's questions or beliefs. (oh, and by the way, the Catholics did this to create their liturgical year and at a time when they were (right or very wrong) trying to convert pagans from false gods and beliefs) Much like we need to be fully aware of in these end times (false teachers or teachings). But that's a whole 'nther debate :) or exploration. Oh and the only "do these things in remembrance of me" that Jesus spoke of was "communion" or the "last supper" (Luke 22:19) (1 Cor.11:24) and is not at all linked to Christmas. Many of these ideas of not celebrating canonical "catholic" or ordinary days like birthdays come from the Jehovah Witness beliefs (just want all uninformed or new believers not to be led astray).

        I do not speak for SRT but as a commUNITY we respect one another and share what we read (as you have). I am just one of the participants that hopes to shed some light from what I read when God prompts me. Maybe I should have remained anonymous or given myself a new sign in word but I remain truthful to who I am and what I write with much prayer and thought and even err at times but I do so honestly and by name.

        Thank you. I pray that the Holy Spirit guides you and each of us to God's truth. God's Word tells us to seek Him first (just as the "Magi"-"magos" in Spanish (who were astrologers, wise men or magicians of that age, etc.) were seeking truth and their eyes were opened to the Majesty born in a stable.

        His Name is above every other King or kingdom: He is Jesus, He is Lord, He is King … He is Emmanuel "God with us".

        Peace in Christ,
        Peggy
        Oh, and SRT, this was a beautiful reflection of the "shepherds". Thank you!

  • Hi Confused,

    I can only speak for myself. I’m celebrating the birth of Christ. Scripture below is why I choose to celebrate Christmas, which is NOT solely about the gifts but the reason is the combined effort of celebrating Christ and giving gifts (showing love, acts of kindness, etc)

    As the Scripture says “When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:10, 11 NLT)

    I hope it makes sense without further confusing you. Blessings and Merry Christmas to all!

  • confused

    I don’t want to fall in to false doctrine is all..there are so much lies out their and God knows I’m seeking his truth.

    • brandi

      I am just thankful for your honesty and your questioning. And I know you have probably heard this before, but we may not have all the answers but we know the One Who does! lol. So thankful we are part of a group of women who genuinely care and love each other in Christ and can come together and not be afraid to share their hearts and thoughts! Thankful for you today.

  • Anonymous

    Just read an article on Christianity Today regarding the Francis of Assisi quote. It seems to often be taken out of context. Yes we should display the gospel with our actions, but we must also proclaim the gospel with our words.

    Preach the gospel–use actions when necessary, use words always.

    Here’s a link to the article if anyone wants to read it: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/mayweb-only/120-42.0.html?paging=off

  • confused

    Thanks anonymous

  • I thank God that he bestowed his grace on the outcasts, the sinners, the down trodden. Where would I be if I had to be part of the "in" group to receive his love? Having followed this series, it is just starting to dawn on me that Christ , God, allowed himself to be subject to all the misery being human can bring. Wow. At any time, he could have said "I've had it, I'm going back to heaven". But no, he stuck it out and suffered for us.

    Thank you, SRT, for the service you are providing in spreading God's word and helping me along my path of faith.

  • I love the wording of verse 20 so much: "The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told." Which were just as they had been told. The Lord speaks, and what He says is true and reliable; this causes joy among those who believe Him and praise right back to Him. Father, Thank you for speaking such beautiful truth into our lives: That we don't have to go it alone, that you became flesh so that we'd know that we have a High Priest who loves and sympathizes with us, and that only YOU and YOUR work on the cross can give us salvation! YOUR grace is sufficient, just like your sacrifice is sufficient. Father, I praise you for this truth, for these promises that you'll never leave us, no matter who we've become or how bad things get.
    I pray that today, you'd help me to be a walking, living, breathing example of your grace moving. I pray that you'd give me an opportunity to share the gospel with others, and give me the means to take it. We love you, papa.

    Girls, I am incredibly thankful for you. I'll be praying a blessing for all of you today.

  • justemmahh

    Joining in on this reading plan late, but I've already been blessed. I'm thankful with what God is doing in this community and can't wait to be a part of the next reading plan. I'm grateful that God allows "commoners" like the shepherds and us to receive such royal and good news! Grace just isn't fair :-)

  • Joanne Sher

    Lord, I bow before You and worship You on this Christmas day, then rise to share Your message with the world that needs it so desperately. Thank You.

  • confused

    I have not been following srt this month because it spoke mainly about the birth of Jesus as someof you would call christmas. I don’t understand why we as christians are celebrating pagan worship when bibilically speaking christmas is not christ centered. It is full of idolatry and its being promoted that we should celebrate it. I love the work that srt do but I do have a small issue as far as truth. Can anyone point to me in scripture where it says to celebrate christmas because I don’t understand this. The bible is the truth but has anyone of you really checked what’s behind christmas? Is it right for us as christians to celebrate these holidays..it jesus has nothing to do with “christmas” why are we as christians celebrate it?

    • Anonymous

      1 Corinthians 14:33,
      Philippians 4:8-9,
      John 16:13.
      I am praying that the Holy Spirit answers this question within you in a peaceable way that clearly shows the fruits of His Spirit. Love you, friend.

    • brandi

      The bible says nothing about driving a car or typing on this computer,but I do both. I don't mean to make light of your questions. I think we should always question our motives, our thoughts and our behaviors in the light of the Word so I am thankful to you for bringing this subject up. My family has always celebrated the birth of Christ because we believe it to be a true event that has changed the history of all mankind. His birth brought about mine into His Kingdom and for this I celebrate. This is what we celebrate at Christmas time through the act of giving to others and spending time together in worship and fellowship. I do believe that there are many worldly things that have encroached upon this time as they have in every aspect of our lives. For example, my home church has a sound system – is this mentioned in the bible? I believe we should always test our motives in the light of Christ and go from there. I definitely think if you feel led not to celebrate Christmas because of the worldly aspect, then you shouldn't do it. Truthfully, we should all celebrate the birth of our Savior everyday – and hopefully we do through worship and praise and prayer and service and showing His love to all those around us. Living His life on this earth. Living His legacy. Living His love. Have a blessed day my sister.

    • mazmagi54 (Peggy)

      I shared two lengthy replies below (except for this your ending " ..it (if) Jesus has nothing to do with "christmas" why are we as christians celebrate it?" )

      For me, JESUS is CHRISTmas! The real and only reason for this season. And if you had followed along in this study of Emmanuel, you may have come to a better understanding of the how and why of us setting aside time to focus on Jesus, not so much Christmas, but Him, God with us!

      In Spanish "mas" (with an accent) means "more" (and no, this has nothing to do with this biblically speaking, I do that below) and Christ is the main focus! Christ … is the root of this word. Jesus Christ comes from the root of Jesse (the Jesse tree). So Christ mas= More Christ. Which for me, takes the emphasis off of myself and puts it on gift giving. Giving of myself to Jesus. More of Jesus, less of me. more like Jesus Christ, in giving to others, less of "me,me,me".

      However, of course, in Spanish it's "Navidad" for Christmas and that has nothing to do with our English word Christmas nor another word, "Noche Buena" (that is used) which means Good Night or better said a Night for doing GOOD.

      I'm trying to make light and yet still give important details of Jesus Christ, coming into this world, but this is the reason that each faith step is personal as also our salvation is and our convictions (which I share more of in my comments below).

      This is a total sidetrack …

      Also, you may have noticed the "magi" in my username (which has nothing to do with sorcery, which I detest) … I use it as "gift bearer" because the 3 wise men came bearing gifts, I explain this more on my blog and this does not at all pertain to your discussion except: they, like you, came seeking the Truth, which for me is the Messiah, Jesus Christ) and I did not share that below … they were expecting a King not a baby in a lowly stable. There are many truths in the actual accounts given in the Gospel of Luke (Matthew, Mark, John).

      Hope you check out my links in my replies below especially the last one from bible (dot) org and God leads you to truth not confusion. Praying for the Light to illuminate your understanding and not to distract from the celebration of Jesus Christ, as Our Lord and Savior as Candacejo clearly pointed us!

      Peace in Jesus Christ,
      Peggy

  • Janee White

    How does life return to normal after an encounter with Jesus? It can't. Its like meeting the man of your dreams…..you know in an instant that your life will never be the same. After my encounter with Christ, Jesus took Christmas from my heart and made it Christmas. Christmas has meaning now.

    May you all have a counter-cultural Christ-centered Christmas day! May everything you do – everything you say – reflect the impact of the encounter you had with Jesus. May you leave your homes, like the shepherds left the manger, glorifying and praising God for all the things you have seen, for all the things you have heard, and for all that you have been told.

    Merry Christmas my She Reads Truth Sisters……

  • All Christmas evening, I couldn't wait to wake up this morning a have my Christmas devotion time. For this I am very thankful — Emmanuel has changed my heart some twenty years ago.

    My husband will leave shortly to drive 80 minutes to bring back a man that has no local family, (a troubled soul) to share our special Christmas brunch. My husband has been modeling Christ to this man for at least 3 years…all in the Lord's perfect timing.

    Merry Christmas SRT sisters

    *sorry for the double post couldn't log in on my Kindle for some reason, and can't delete the above

  • All Christmas evening, I could wait to wake up this morning a have my Christmas devotion time. For this I am very thankful — Emmanuel has changed my heart some twenty years ago.

    My husband will leave shortly to drive 80 minutes to bring back a man that has no local family, (a troubled soul) to share our special Christmas brunch. My husband has been modeling Christ to this man for at least 3 years…all in the Lord's perfect timing.

    Merry Christmas SRT sisters

  • Candacejo

    So thankful for this quiet time alone this morning to have my devotion and time with the Lord before the family all gets up and going today on this busy Christmas morning. Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls are doing their "thing", but it is more important that I spend my time with the Reason for the Season!

    If we are not changed then we surely have not been with Jesus! Beautiful this morning!

    So thankful for Christmas…doesn't matter to me whether we have the actual day of His birth correct or not, I am just thankful to celebrate: He came, He loved, He gave, He died, He rose, He left the Holy Spirit and He is coming again! What joyous hope we have today! Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel, God with us!

    Merry Christmas dear sisters!

    • Ion eek

      I, too am glad for this time. Praise be to God for His unspeakful gift. And my prayer today is that I may represent Christ to our friends we are having dinner with and who don't know Him. Blessings for you all.

    • Deirdra

      I am sooooo sorry! I went to "like" and hit the other one! Ugh…I pray its not going to be one of those days!!
      I, too, am enjoying my quiet time with the Lord..in the quietness before the rest of the house wakes up and the day takes off in busyness. I love how Mary ponders all these things in her heart. To hold the Son of God in her arms and ….."kiss the face of God"….Yes, I can see how she would treasure these things in her heart.
      I, too, want to treasure and ponder on Emmanuel today….the reason for the season…that gets knocked out of the way because of all the hustle and bustle of the day! I pray we ponder on Him….keep Our Lord the focus of the day.
      Merry Christmas sisters…..have a very blessed day!

    • mazmagi54 (Peggy)

      Thank you Nannette (Candacejo)! Joining in the wonder and wonderful praise and glory of the shepherds, perhaps dumbfounded by all of this yet the glory and the amazement does make us ever so thankful for His coming as an infant humbly in a lowly manger (whenever it was) that we can join the angels, shepherds and Jesus Himself … that He conquered sin and death for us as you so beautifully shared! Hallelujah! Our Savior is/was born and we rejoice as we celebrate His coming to each of us with hope, love and faith! Empty handed yet so fulfilled and filled up as we leave His Presence! After all, our salvation is in Him! Pondering all these things in my heart as well and all the wonderful blesssings plus ALL we have had the privilege of that which is seen and heard!

      A blessed Christmas to you and all our SRT commUNITY!
      Peace on earth and good will to each home represented here…
      Peggy

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