Forest Lake Talks

December 25 Advent Devotional

December 25, 2020

In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists.  This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria.  Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled.  Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea.  He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant.  While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby.  She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom. 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.” – Luke 2:1-20 (CEB Version)

Merry Christmas! Today we remember that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5). Sometime today (if you get to this early enough, consider reading it aloud before you open presents!) make a point to sit and read this portion of the Christmas story. Do it in a way that helps you to listen – really listen to the story. If children are a part of your day, read it to or with them. I suggest you read it a couple of times. Have different people read it. What word or phrase sticks out to you as you read this story? Share with someone or write down the part that “shines” for you as you listen with your heart. This story is the reason for our celebrations. When the angel first appeared to the Shepherds they were “terrified.” But God’s angel said, “Don’t be afraid!” This was not because there were not scary things in the world, but because the news that God had shown up, in the world, to save us reminds us that nothing is more powerful and more loving and more hopeful than the news that God loves us and comes to us when we are afraid. The CEB version says that when the shepherds told Mary what the angel had said that she “committed these things to memory.” Consider memorizing either the phrase that sticks out to you as you read, or consider memorizing verses 10 and 11. Doing so could give you words of assurance to say the next time you are afraid. The news this morning is good – it is very good.

Holy, all-powerful God, that you would and did come to earth in human form is hard for us to understand and even harder to remember every day. Help us to remember, to commit to memory and to rest in your promise to be with us and to save us. Help us today to feel your presence. And when we are afraid, remind us that you came into the world and will come into our hearts when we pray. Thank you for your presence with us. We thank you for the gift of Jesus, who helps us know you and trust you. Thank you, in Jesus name. Amen.

Submitted by: Ellen Fowler Skidmore

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