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December 19

Chosen to Share the Good News

 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 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. But Mary treasured up all these things and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Luke 2:8-20

In the time that Jesus was born, shepherds were not considered important people, but God chose to tell them about Jesus’s birth. The shepherds hurried off to see for themselves, and when they saw Him, they were excited to tell others about the baby Jesus.

Sometimes, we may not feel like we are very important. But God does not see us the way we see ourselves. He knows everything about us and still loved us enough to send Jesus to save us. We should be like the shepherds when they heard the news from the angels about Jesus being born – we can be excited and hurry and tell everyone that Jesus is born, and He is all the reason we need to celebrate Christmas.

Paxton's Pic.jpg

Dear God, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus. Help us to be brave like the shepherds and share the news of Jesus and of Your love for us all. Amen.

 Paxton Johnson

Additional Scriptures: Romans 10:15, Psalm 8, 1Peter 2:9

December 16

Keeping Watch

“In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.”

Luke 2: 8

In our day and time, there are not many shepherds living in the fields, nor are their many cowboys riding the range. The closest we have to such livelihoods are the military stationed in combat or training operations.

Moreover, guarding sheep from predators is similar to troops’ nighttime guard duty protecting personnel from attackers. Being out of doors keeps us in contact with nature and God’s creation. Looking at the stars in heaven is humbling and inspiring.

Now, as was then, we long for better times and better lives. Imagine then the awe and trembling at receiving a sign from God in the heavens. The shepherds heard angels singing on high, and their joyful song of hope and salvation still sounds all around us, indoors and out.

Shepherds-Advent-Waiting-Watching-FUMC.jpg[Photo by Dan Kiefer on Unsplash]

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased,”

Luke 2:14

Sam Hopkins, Chaplain U.S. Army, ret.

Lord, keep me attentive for Your return and for the attack of the enemy. Prepare me with the faith to wear Your armor each day. Teach me to effectively wield the sword of the Spirit, which is Your Word.

 Additional readings: Ephesians 6:10-17, Romans 13:10-12

December 15: Third Sunday in Advent

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.

Psalm 23:1

(Light the first Advent candle.)

Hope began the journey this Advent season. Hope continues to fuel our faith as we wait for the coming Messiah.

(Light the second Advent candle.)

Third Sunday Advent-Joy-Shepherds-FUMC.jpg[Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash]

Light grows with the lighting of the second candle just like God’s gift of faith grows in us. Faith shines its light in the dark places of our hearts and lives.

(Light the third Advent candle.)

Today we light the third candle and it brings even more light to the world around us filling our hearts with joy. Some call this the Shepherd’s Candle.

Read Luke 2:8-15

The shepherds in the fields were some of the first to hear the joyous news of Jesus’s birth. Why shepherds? Why not the kings and queens or religious leaders? Why not tell the news to those in society’s high places?

Instead God chose some of the lowliest people to share the greatest joy while they were doing the most ordinary of things… working. Think about the ordinary things you do each day. What would it be like for God to interrupt your ordinary? What good news might God share with you? How would it make you feel?

Hope sparks the beginning of our Advent journey and fuels the flames of faith. The two shine brighter together than alone, and when united they ignite our joy. Joyful anticipation of celebrating the infant King. Joy in the news the Savior is born. Like the shepherds in the fields we feel like we must do something.

Advent has us doing lots of “somethings.” People bustle from place to place to find the perfect gift, some prepare for family gatherings, while others rush to check off the final things on their list. The Christmas season has become a bit hurried, and it doesn’t always feel joyful.

Here in the middle of the season we might need an angelic reminder. We need to hear the Good News to interrupt our ordinary Advent. Shining the joyful light of the season needs to become more intentional in the midst of the busy.

Listen. God has news that will bring you great joy. News that interrupts your ordinary and urges you to go. Go and see the tiny Babe in Bethlehem. Journey away for a moment from all the Christmas crazy and relish in the joy of this moment. A moment full of hope and faith and the Light of the World dawning.

Sing “Joy to the World”:

Joy to the world, the Lord is come

Let earth receive her King

Let every heart prepare him room

And heaven and nature sing

And heaven and nature sing

And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Spirit of Joy, fill our hearts with Good News. For unto us a Savior is born, unto us a Son is given. And we will call Him… Redeemer and Friend. Joy to the world! Amen.

Additional Scriptures: Romans 12:12, Psalm 47:1, 1Peter 1:8-9