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. Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Every single gospel writer had to, at some point, sit down and decide what they would include and what they would not include in their Gospel account. That is a rather grave responsibility. It would seem that everything included in the Gospels must be of significance to us, and ultimately help us to understand the character of God more fully. That would be the reason for the inclusion. I keep that premise in mind as I come across the description of Jesus wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. What is Luke trying to teach me? I appreciated this discovery by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola:
Bethlehem’s priestly shepherds had to learn and follow special techniques and rituals during the lambing season. Bethlehem lambs born for slaughter were special lambs. To prevent harm and self-injury from thrashing about after birth on their spindly legs, newborn lambs were wrapped in swaddling cloths. Then they were placed in a manger or feeding trough, where they could calm down out of harm’s way. After careful inspection by the shepherd, any spot or “blemish,” no matter how slight, meant instant rejection (slaughter). The Hebrew word tamiym (translated for lambs “without spot or blemish”) means “complete, whole, entire, sound....The shepherds who gathered around the Bethlehem stable where the Lamb of God was born were not witnessing anything new, except who was in the manger: the most important sacrificial Lamb who had ever been born, the Lamb who would close down the slaughterhouse of sacrifice, the perfect Lamb of God. (Jesus, p. 69)
God bypassed every type of established powerhouse system at the time and chose the stable underneath a family home where the animals lived for the Incarnation to take place. He used the imagery and the common identity of a system established from the garden of creation, from the fall of humanity, to help those shepherds connect their story with His. The city was about to change, the world was about to change, the universe was about to change. What child is this? Jesus.
Recalibrate: What small symbolic thing in your life has meant more to you over time?
Respond: Pray a prayer of gratitude for the small things in life.
Research: Read the story how John the Baptist introduced Jesus.
Live Wonder (ages 0–3)
The angels and shepherds sang praises about the Good News of Jesus’ birth. Think back to the day your child was born; how full did your heart feel? Share with your child about the joy you felt at their birth and how much joy the world felt when Jesus was born.
Live Adventure (ages 4–11)
Make up a song with your child or play one of their favorite songs. Sing as loudly as you can and dance as crazily as you possibly can. Talk to you child about how much joy the angels and shepherds felt when Jesus was born.
Live Purpose (ages 12–16)
When there’s something to look forward to, it changes our attitude during the day. What are some things that you can be excited about today?