During Advent, we are featuring devotionals written by clergy of the Greater NJ Annual Conference of the UMC. For this fourth week, we are focused on reflections related to the shepherds, based on the Gospel of Luke.
8 Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night. 9 The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were terrified.
10 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. 11 Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. 12 This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, 14 “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.”
15 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.” 16 They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they reported what they had been told about this child. 18 Everyone who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. 20 The shepherds returned home, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Everything happened just as they had been told.
Things to Ponder as You Prepare for Christmas Eve
- What are you preparing for?
- Are you expecting something holy to happen?
- What is the real meaning of Christmas?
- How can we emulate the shepherds and lean into what God is calling us to go and see?
- The shepherds were not ready for the announcement, but they received it with joy and went with haste to see the baby – where is God calling you to go? How is God calling you to be? Where can you receive something with joy that is surprising?
- God’s not waiting for us to show up perfectly – believe me when the shepherds showed up to see Jesus they
were not in their ﬁnest clothing, they weren’t washed, they weren’t presentable. They ran to respond to God and showed up as they were. This, I believe, is all God wants from us – to show up authentically. To be who we are, even when we don’t feel perfect. It is in this that God does the greatest wonders. This Christmas, do not be worried about how you will measure up to others or to the world. Wonder only about how you can show up as your perfectly imperfect self to God.
By the Rev. Gabrielle Corbett
O God of presence made ﬂesh, presence of all things, help me. Help me to remember that Christmas is not about the outﬁts or the presents or the food on the table. Help me to remember that Christmas is about showing up, fully as I am, fully known and loved by you. Help me to receive your message of Emmanuel, of salvation, with joy and with my full self. Jesus, no matter what comes in the next few days, help me to remember that I am loved and that the greatest gift I can give to anyone is love – love for their authentic person, love for my authentic self and love most of all for you. Thank you Jesus. Amen.