I missed it!
This year when our extended Gebbie family gathered for Christmas, I was excited to include my only granddaughter in our gift exchange. This was the first time, at almost 3-years-old, that many family members met her. When it was time to open gifts, I started handing them to her and asked her to take it to the person named. This taught her new family names & helped her engage with everyone. It was a beautiful & fun family day! BUT… I jumped ahead too fast and totally forgot our family tradition of over 30 years to read Luke 2 before opening presents. That mistake gives me a chance to share some thoughts about part of the Christmas story.
This year I discovered a new perspective about the shepherds from an advent devotional on YouVersion called “God With Us”. You may already know this, but it was a new idea for me to think of the shepherds as more than a a sign of Jesus’ love of common people over the religiosity of some leaders. The shepherds also represented how Jesus would grow to be OUR shepherd. A shepherd who watches over us, protects and provides for us. A Shepherd who works for our good, even before we are aware of His presence.
There are many verses about Jesus as our shepherd in the Bible, but my favorite is Psalm 23:1, NLT version that reads:
The Lord is my Shepherd. I have all that I need.
In a time of hopeful “recovery” from consumerism that negatively impacts the environment, it’s important to remember that accumulating more and more things brings only momentary joy. Instead, Seek your happiness in the Lord, and He will give you your Heart’s desire. Psalm 37:4.
Similar to the Shepherds pointing to Jesus’ role, the 3 Kings also speak to the path of Jesus. The 3 Kings simply slipped away from Herod without following his command to tell him the location of the newborn baby. Likewise, Jesus lived through the paradox of being rebellious with the rulers of his time while showing incredible strength to remain peaceful and non-violent. Consider the strength needed to remain in love through the unbearable pain of innocent lives, including Herod’s order to kill children under the age of two, and later His own unimaginable suffering. He gave up his power to come as a baby, and to later suffer through rejection and physical pain BECAUSE He loves us… individually. And that includes those who turn to Him as well as those who reject Him. He loves us, faults and all, before we first loved Him. Darkness cannot overcome the light of love.
I make ornaments to share every year. This year the world seemed especially dark with environmental disasters, war in Ukraine, and extreme divisiveness and violence. I chose to make an ornament on black paper and added reflective, bright paint to be a symbol of John 1:5 (TPT) “this Living Expression is the Light that bursts through gloom— the Light that darkness could not diminish!” I love the quote written by Ann Voskamp:
"So light the Advent candles. Light them, light them.
And you can see it, with every lit candle,
sparks of dawning.
Hope catching on everything!
I also discovered an inspiring video on YouVersion from Kevin Olusola of Pentatonix. His devotion is called “All Things New”. Click on the link below to watch the video (in 2 sections) of his beautiful version of the light of life.
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