During Advent & Christmas, we are featuring devotionals written by clergy of the Greater NJ Annual Conference of the UMC. For this week, we are focused on reflections on Luke 2:1-7, the story of Jesus’ birth.
1In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. 2 This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria. 3 Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled. 4 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. 5 He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant. 6 While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby. 7 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.
God of the angel armies and ordinary manger cloths,
As we sit in the afterglow of Christmas Day, we give you thanks.
We thank you, Jesus, for the way you came into the world that first Christmas to show us the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Thank you, Jesus, for the ways you come into this world now to show us how to live and how to love. Thank you, Jesus, for loving us so deeply, so fully, and so widely that you speak to us by any means necessary – in dreams, in signs, in visions, with singing angels in heavenly places, and in every day, ordinary ways.
As we sit in the afterglow of Christmas Day, help us remember that you are the God of the ordinary. Help us remember that you are the God of fixed, historical places and transitional, liminal spaces. Help us remember that you are the God of the empires of this world and the God of the Kingdom that has no end. Help us remember that you are the God of rulers of this world who gave us Christ the King to be Emmanuel – God with us. Help us remember that it is you, Emmanuel, who holds all things together.
God of the angel armies and ordinary manger cloths, help us remain faithful to Jesus in his coming to us. Strengthen us to not be tempted to look for Your presence and Your action in high, lofty, superficial things. Grace us each day with Your wisdom to seek Jesus in the ordinary – the smile of a small child, the beauty of sunrises and sunsets, being with and praying with those who are hurting, and as we serve in our homes, streets, and kitchens. Jesus, grace us each day to seek you in ordinary ways and ordinary places. May your presence always find room in us. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
By the Rev. Enger Muteteke
For Pondering & Prayer
What does it mean to you to bring Christmas beyond Christmas day?
Prayer: Holy God, may your presence always find room in us. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.