Refresh: Open with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Luke 2:8–20 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: I love Christmas. There, I said it. Out in the open. Nothing to be ashamed about. If I could run to the top of a mountain, which would be feat worth noting, I would shout it as loud as I could: “I love Christmas.” I would probably even try to compose a song dedicated to my love of Christmas, and, in a nod to The Sound of Music (1965)—I would sing that “the hills are alive with the sound of Christmas.” Why so much enthusiasm? There are lots of reasons to love Christmas, but simply put, it marks the beginning of a new universe. The Kingdom of God was declared at the birth of Christ—and everything was about to change because He entered the world as a baby.
In order to grasp the tension of the Nativity story, you need to place yourself in its context. This is what the best historians are able to do—they piece together the past and bring it to life for an audience in the present. It is as if we were there watching the events unfold before our very eyes. You will need to use your imagination and inquisitive mind to grapple through the meaning of these verses. Consider reading the verses before and after reading the reflection in order to allow the passages to come to life in deeper and more meaningful ways.
For instance, when Luke opens this story—the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the promised Hope for humanity—he chooses to tell us that orders had gone out from Caesar Augustus for everyone to be registered at their place of birth. It is in verse one of this same chapter, that we have our first clue. Augustus has power. He is, in fact, at the top of his game. He has destroyed the famous Mark Anthony who was in love with Cleopatra of Egypt. He has changed Rome from a republic to an empire and made himself the “god" in charge of the known world. He has already proclaimed the "good news," of his own arrival. He is the savior of the world. People worship him. They have little choice.
Then along comes Jesus—what child is this? Lying in a manger—among the barnyard animals. So the story begins and the world—the universe—would never be the same again.
Recalibrate: What is your favorite Christmas memory and why is it special to you?
Respond: Ask Jesus what needs to change in our community today.
Research: Where did the term “good news” come from?
Live Wonder (ages 0–3)
The shepherds were watching their sheep when the angels appeared to them. Ask your child, “What does the sheep say?” What do you think the sheep and the shepherds thought when they saw all the angels?
Live Adventure (ages 4–11)
The angels showed up when the shepherds were doing something they did every day. What is something that you do every day (eat breakfast, brush your teeth, make your bed, read)? Next time you do that, thank Jesus that He is always with you, every day.
Live Purpose (ages 12–16)
Sometimes it can feel like only “special” people have a strong connection with Jesus. Do you think God was intentional when He sent the angels to go share the message with the shepherds? If you were one of the shepherds, how would it make you feel that God chose you to share this exciting news with?