Series: Christmas Presence
Message: Unwrapping the Presence
Preacher: Jenniffer Ogden
Reflection: J. Murdock
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Beyond: Vanessa Alarcon
Live Purpose: Don Pate
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Luke 2:1-19 in the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Unlike the story that Luke tells of the birth of John, which takes place over one singular line of Scripture, the birth of Jesus expands over twenty verses in total. But the best and brightest line of the story comes in Verse 7 where Luke writes, “She gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger.”
In that one line, a miracle takes place that sets in motion the identity of a world, brining one singular outcome out of previously infinite possibilities. Because this baby was here on earth, there could now be a finish line to the race that began “in the beginning.” The implications are immeasurably hopeful to those inflicted by the degradation of impurities heaped upon humanity since Adam and Eve left the garden.
While the story is rich with theological, eschatological, and evangelistic principles, the miracle is found in one verse and is very simple to read—even in our inability to comprehend its fateful message. And so today, rather than attempt to add meaning to something so pure in its original form, let us rest in this truth on its own as we revel in the reality that today; Christ has come! In doing so, He brought hope and joy that brings us to our knees in adoration and puts a song to our lips in glorification!
Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of Earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King!
Recalibrate: What blessings are you most grateful for today? In light of the blessing of Jesus’ coming to earth to be with us, how might each blessing be amplified reminding us that we have already been immeasurably blessed by this act of God in our world?
Respond: Pray that this season of gratitude will continue beyond the Christmas season and into the new year.
Research: Read the Christmas Story as a whole today to experience the entire narrative of Christ’s triumphant entrance to our world.
Remember: “But the angel reassured them, saying, ‘Do not be afraid. For I have come to bring you good news, the most joyous news the world has ever heard! And it is for everyone everywhere!’” (Luke 2:10, ICB).
J. Murdock is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where he focuses on youth and young adult ministry.
“But the angel reassured them, saying, ‘Do not be afraid. For I have come to bring you good news, the most joyous news the world has ever heard! And it is for everyone everywhere!’” (Luke 2:10, ICB).
The birth of Jesus changed everything. Three Christmases ago, my husband and I were surprised with the news that we were going to be grandparents. I cried. Such good news. Our world has never been the same since. Our hearts explode with love and joy as we get to see our girl grow. We live in wonder, seeing the world through her eyes, and we are so thankful for this gift of life that Jesus has given. Live in the wonder of love; it’s God’s daily gift to you.
“But the angel reassured them, saying, ‘Do not be afraid. For I have come to bring you good news, the most joyous news the world has ever heard! And it is for everyone everywhere!’” (Luke 2:10, ICB). The good news is Jesus. Watch and sing along with Hillsong Kids.
Have you had anyone ever ask you to promise you won’t get mad? “I will only tell you if you promise not to be mad at me.” I’ve made that request of people but it is unfair. How can one promise not to be mad? As we heard in Luke 2:10, the angel and a whole other choir of angels tell the shepherds to not be afraid. I imagine many of them were afraid. Out of nowhere, the skies brightened up with many of those angels. But this arrival had nothing to do with their entrance and everything to do with the central message: Jesus is born.
The promise came from Eden. The promise was reiterated through Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and David and Isaiah and Micah and Daniel and Malachi and . . . For hundreds, thousands of years we waited. God had His timetable and the human family kept hanging on. Many forgot the promise, but in every generation there were some faithful ones who kept longing for the Messiah, longing for the fulfillment. Then, in a dusty little burg south of Jerusalem, “the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.” Yes, Mary was delivered. You were delivered. I was delivered. Adam and Eve and Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and David and Isaiah and Micah and Daniel and Malachi and John the Baptist—we all were provided deliverance. Mary delivered her Child and He delivered us all. It doesn’t get any better than that!
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Vanessa Alarcon is a licensed clinical social worker who focuses on addiction treatment in Denver, Colorado. She also serves as the Faith Engagement Pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado.
Don Pate is “retired” in Tennessee after decades of teaching and pastoring but is still active in speaking and creating for the Kingdom.