Series: Christmas Presence
Message: Regifting the Presence
Preacher: J. Murdock
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 2:22-38 in the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Last week on this day (in the Scriptures) we celebrated the life of Jesus as it began on Christmas Day. That was merely a dress rehearsal for this day in our time as today is the day we celebrate the story we read together each year. And what a day to return to regularly! The greatest news to come to us is news that we did nothing to earn and can do nothing to change. We celebrate it annually—and it always continues to amaze anyone with the ability to hear it!
When this Daily Walk entry hits your Inbox, the day will have not yet broken and the hustle will not yet have begun. If you find a way to read this before the day of cooking, and presents, and dishes, and constant scooping up of wrapping paper begins, take a moment to scan your surroundings and reflect.
What do you see? What can you hear? What do you feel?
Scripture tells us that in times of chaos, there can be heard a still small voice that comes not in the earthquake of footsteps barrelling down the stairs, not in the wind of eager gift givers and receivers tearing into the living room awaiting the signal to begin unpacking the secrets hiding under the tree, and not in the fire that crackles before the hearth just below the mantle where the stockings, full of little gizmos and gadgets, hang. No, the presence occurs despite all of this and through all of this. So don’t wait to catch it and revel in it while there are limited distractions to take away from the Present given to you today—and made especially with you in mind.
Merry Christmas. Peace be with you.
Recalibrate: What is your most cherished memory from this day in years past? What can you do to make Christmas this year memorable for you and your family?
Respond: Pray today that through all of the cheer that comes from celebrating the holiday you will also keep Christ centered in your mind so you can rejoice in more than just gifts under the tree and remain thankful for the Gift that never stops giving.
Research: Read How to Be Thankful in All Things.
Remember: “Anna walked up to them and burst forth with a great chorus of praise to God for the child” (Luke 2:38, ICB).
J. Murdock is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where he focuses on youth and young adult ministry.
With your child. I have typed that phrase so often. I will do it again. With your child, enjoy today. Forget about the time and delight in family. This is who we are made to be. This is the reason Jesus came—to reunite families, to bring love home. This is the present, to be found in His presence. Enjoy; be found in Him.
Today is the day that we have been waiting for, preparing for, getting excited about. Enjoy every minute. Soak up all the love and laughter. Watch and listen to everything around you and make a list in your head of all that you are thankful for. Imagine your list as a gift, wrap it up in an imaginary parcel and in your prayers send it to Jesus, thanking Him for the gift of His presence this Christmas.
When was the last time you opened your Bible, read something, closed it and felt amazed by what you read? Well, maybe it hasn’t happened quite like that. I’m sure when I was in elementary school I read a cool story but it wasn’t until college that I decided to actually study the Bible on my own. That was a huge milestone for me— I was digging so deep into the Bible that when I needed to stop I would just feel in awe of all the truths I had read. The more focused and intentional I am about Bible study, the more amazed I am. If I’m just reading to read, it seems way more ordinary. I encourage you on this day to read the Bible like Simeon did. Read it, know it, and get closer to God along the way. It’ll happen on its own with that time of commitment.
One of the saddest, truest verses of the Bible comes at the end of the dedication scene of Luke 2. Simeon surprised all the priests around him who only saw “another kid, another shekel.” He held that little Galilean baby and sang, “I can die now! I’ve seen it!” Behind his shoulder, observing the moment was a frail little old lady who had hung around the temple precincts for decades. Surely there were some who thought she’d gone daffy but she really wasn’t hurting anybody, right? Anna heard Simeon sing out loud, but I have a feeling that she was close enough that she might have heard the priest whisper to Mary, “This child is going to shred you!” It’s a horrible, beautiful, poignant moment. I imagine it closing with Simeon heading off, ready for retirement or whatever God had prepared for him. But my imagination has Anna quietly crying, so happy that she’d seen the baby and so saddened at the fate that was waiting for Mary down the road. Her old, widowed heart probably struggled between wanting to hold Jesus and wanting to hold Mary.
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.