Advent Devotion for December 25
Candle Lighter says: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David…"
Response: “…a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
SCRIPTURE: Luke 2:1-20 KJV
1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things, which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
SOME THOUGHTS: And so we read the story of the birth of Christ again this year. I used the King James Version because that is probably the most memorized version. If you haven’t memorized it, let me encourage you to do so. I want to make a few comments about the context of the passage without destroying your image of what happened. The narrative has been so romanticized through the years. Mary and Joseph’s ancestors on both sides of their family were of the lineage of King David (c.1000 BC). That means their ancestry had been tracked back a thousand years even without Ancestry.com! How do we know? Their genealogy is in the Bible (Matthew 1 and Luke 3). That is important because Jesus was to be born from the line of King David and the tribe of Judah. That also meant that Mary and Joseph most likely had relatives living in Bethlehem. It would have been natural for Mary and Joseph to stay with family. There were no “inns” as such during this part of history. It is an unfortunate translation of the text. Most likely Mary and Joseph had made the 45-50 mile trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem several weeks prior to her delivery. Times were slower back then. Often whole groups of people would travel together for community and for safety. My guess is they had been in Bethlehem several weeks prior to the delivery. Bethlehem was undoubtedly flooded with people from all over returning to their family of origin. The animals actually stayed on the first floor of homes with the living quarters for the family being a story or a half story higher. Some homes had “guest rooms” of sorts. It appears there was either no guest room or it was occupied, so baby Jesus was put in the manger, the feed trough of the animals, a humbling way for the King of the Universe, the one He created, to enter this world. A remarkable God we have!
I’d like you to imagine yourself in history that night. Tonight, go outside in the dark by yourself, look up into the sky and visualize thousands upon thousands of angels singing “glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth (and here is that phrase again) to those with whom God is pleased.” Remember the words at Gabriel’s annunciation to Mary? Let the message soak in your obedience pleases God.
A CHRISTMAS POEM: George Herbert, 1593-1633
The shepherds sing; and shall I silent be?
My God, no hymne for Thee?
My soul’s a shepherd too; a flock it feeds
Of thoughts and words and deeds:
The pasture is Thy Word; the streams Thy grace,
Enriching all the place.
Shepherd and flock shall sing, and all my powers
Out-sing the daylight houres;
Then we will chide the Sunne for letting Night
Take up his place and right:
We sing one common Lord; wherefore he should
Himself the candle hold.
I will go searching till I finde a sunne
Shall stay till we have done;
A willing shiner, that shall shine as gladly
As frost-nipt sunnes look sadly:
Then we will sing, and shine all our own day,
And one another pay:
His beams shall cheer my breast, and both so twine,
Till e’en His beams sing, and my music shine.
PRAYER: This special day, talk with the Lord in your own words.