Advent Week 2: Fully Alive Through Service

December 4, 2017

Week 2 Devotional
December 10, 2017

Read verses: Colossians 1:24-29 and Luke 2:15-18
Key verse: Colossians 1:25

“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’  So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.  When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them” (Luke 2:15-18).

Despite their clean and handsome appearance in most Nativity sets, the shepherds in traditional renderings of Luke’s Christmas story are portrayed as relatively dirty, smelly members of a lower class, persons who often were not particularly welcome in the villages of Judea.  “Go away; stay out in the fields with your stinky animals,” the people might have said.

And I can imagine that many shepherds did just that – they stayed away from the towns, avoiding the persons who looked down upon them and resented their presence.  So, it must have taken a certain level of daring for the shepherds to leave their flocks and venture into the little town of Bethlehem.  They had been exposed to a most marvelous sight, and they had been given a most marvelous message, an invitation given to no one else on that special night.  But it still must have taken every ounce of courage they could summon to seek that baby in a place to which they were not welcome, among people who did not want them.

As they quietly crept toward a humble stable, they wondered to themselves, “Is this really happening?  Should we even be here?  What do we expect to find?”

We know that what they found that night was the most miraculous sight ever: a tiny baby and yet a newborn King, the Son of God, the Christ!

But what they did next was another miracle: those men who likely had kept quiet in the presence of others couldn’t stop telling others what they had seen.  They were the first to deliver the Good News, the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I can imagine how surprised they were that they were speaking out so publicly and so boldly – and I can imagine how surprised others were that they were listening and remarking so joyfully about the message of the shepherds.

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul teaches that God’s word is given to us for others, that it is Christ in us who inspires our words.  So, let us in this Advent season and throughout the months and years to come, boldly proclaim the Good News with every bit as much joy and confidence as did those keepers of sheep in a land so far away, so long ago.

O gracious and loving God, through your grace may our words be your words, may our lives be lived according to your will, and may all we encounter hear of the Good News that we, like the shepherds, are called to share.  Amen.

Rev. Gerald (Jerry) Bass is currently serving as the full-time interim pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church in Grand Forks, ND.  He is a 2004 Master of Divinity graduate.

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