December 24 – Jesse Tree Story Day 25
Christmas Eve is upon us! Hopefully your plans tonight include family time and maybe a candlelight worship service. My mom told me once that when she was growing up (~60 years ago), her family would attend midnight mass and then stay up all night decorating the house. Back then, the Advent season was not a time for Christmas decorations; all songs were in a minor key. Advent ending was the time to celebrate and sing joyous Christmas songs, then their house remained decorated until the middle of January. This got me thinking that this is similar to Jewish customs outlined in the Old Testament when there was a time of cleansing and purification before a big celebration such as Passover. This time of heart preparation before celebration seems to be something we’ve lost in our culture.
Thank you for making time to prepare your heart this Christmas season! I wish you a wonderful and spirit-filled celebration of God with us, amplified because of your heart preparation!
READ: Luke 2:1-20
It’s time for my favorite Christmas song to set today’s tone, as only Josh Groban can sing it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Zh-yR0pbmU
A bunch of ordinary people make-up the characters in today’s story. That’s the perfect place for God to do something extraordinary! Our once-and-for-all King was born to an ordinary man and woman in the only place they could find to lay down and rest in Bethlehem, out there with the livestock. Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift puts it this way: “Jesus didn’t enter the world in a palace or in a king’s court. Instead, He chose to enter our world right in a pile of mucky, messy, stinky, dirty straw. Jesus comes and meets you in the stinky mess of your sin. Jesus comes to you small when you feel invisible and rejected. Jesus is with you now. Wherever you are, no matter what is happening, Jesus always wants to be with you. The Lord saves. Jesus is with us.”
God chose some ordinary shepherds to be the first to hear about Jesus’ birth. From Luke 2:10-11: “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.’” Then the shepherds got to witness something incredible—a multitude of angels praising God—something we probably will never experience until we are in heaven standing before God’s throne. Yearning for God’s presence pushed the shepherds to search for Jesus in the manger and fall on their knees before him, and then, this is important, the shepherds responded in action in vs. 2:17: “When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” You just can’t keep good news like this to yourself! Mrs. Voskamp again: “It’s true: Jesus came into the world for you! And it’s really true: you came into the world for Him, to let everyone know about Him.”
Fall on your knees! And then do something about it! With whom can you share the Good News of Jesus? Write their names down; put it on a slip of paper and then slip that paper in your Christmas decorations box. Then next year when you get the box out to decorate, you’ll have a reminder to prepare your heart for Christmas too and be able to progress check yourself on if you shared the Good News with those whom God layed on your heart.
You deserve my worship and my response for the amazing gift You have given to me.
I am an ordinary woman, completely and utterly broken, yet You have given me an incredible gift. You, the Creator of the universe, have looked upon insignificant sinful me and showered Your endless love upon me! Thank You for the gift of Jesus and Your presence in my life. Please move me to action for You, show me who needs to know the Good News, and give me courage to tell them, all for You and for Your glory. Thank You for this study and this time devoted to You preparing my heart for the true meaning of Christmas.