The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
The shepherds returned. See, after seeing that things were just as the angel had told them and after they had satisfied their initial curiosity, they went out and told all their friends around town about what had happened. This was the biggest news they’d ever heard. I mean, it’s not every day that most of us have angels come down from heaven heralding the birth of the one and only Savior of the world. It was a pretty big day/night for these guys. (more…)
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
I have a problem that I know a lot of pastors have: verbal diarrhea. I’m not trying to say that every pastor has this problem, but it’s just that a big part of what we do is speak and so we tend to do a lot of talking. We talk to people all throughout the week about their problems. We talk to leaders about how they could improve. We talk to our friends about how things are going. And obviously the big one is the talk we prepare for and deliver at least once a week. Quite honestly, I talk way too much.
And so I find it hard for myself to quiet down at times and reflect. My “reflection” times typically involve me talking through what is going on with a friend. And while this isn’t bad, I do think there may be another way to do things. (more…)
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
There were two messages that I believe the angel told the shepherds that day. The first one is pretty obvious. It goes something like “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
The second one, though, may be a little harder to see, but I think you already know what it is. It’s the message that says, “Hey, you’re worth it.” (more…)
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
I have slept in all kinds of conditions. I have gone on missions trips to foreign countries, and I’ve even had worse sleeping accommodations than that, but you expect that kind of thing at camp sometimes. Anyhow, I’ve slept on the floor and been stuffed in rooms with more people than fire-code allowed. And I’ve always had a place to lay my head.
It’s crazy that God chose this to be the way His Son would enter our world. Jesus had every right to be born in Herod’s palaces and instantly crowned king. But like David, there would be a waiting period for Him to “take the throne.” He had every right to be born in a palace but he was aligning Himself with the very people He came to save. He was showing that, even though He was the biggest thing ever, that He would make Himself the lowest thing ever. (more…)
[Joseph] went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
Although I’m sticking with Luke as we walk closer to Christmas, I am very grateful for the other gospel accounts that tell us a little bit about Joseph. But no matter what account you read, you still get the idea that Joseph is not the main character. What a rip off! (more…)
“His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.”
About 80 generations after these words of praise left the mouth of Mary, we find that the message she sang about is still true. She was elated. Of course, I imagine she was still bewildered and a bit confused, but she was being chosen to serve God in such an awesome way. And she breaks into song. We don’t know the melody but we know the words and it’s some of those words that I’d like you to think about today. (more…)
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”
Mary had just gotten the incredible news that she would be mother to the Son of God. No big deal. Happens all the time, right? Ok, maybe not. Maybe this was one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments when everything slows down and you’re struggling to understand what’s being asked of you. Mary had something big to figure out once the angel had said that she’d have a son. How? If she’d never had sex and was only engaged to Joseph, how was she supposed to have this child? (more…)
After a number of days in the wilderness of the Olympic National Park, I had made my way to civilization — Seattle. It was my first night there, and I was only planning on being there that one night. So as I settled into my hotel room (yes, I cheated one night) I was faced with the decision of whether to go to a local Starbucks or drive the half hour into downtown to go to the original Starbucks. “How often am I going to be in Seattle and have the opportunity to go to the actual original Starbucks?” I thought. A half hour later I stood in front of the old brick roads of the Public Market with the excitement welling up inside of me that I was going to spend the next two hours quietly enjoying a cup of coffee while reading a book in the original Starbucks. There was the sign with the original logo and I was literally feet away from the Public Market, so I knew this was the original.
Then 10 o’clock came around and they were closing up and I decided rather than just walking straight to my car I would do a little sight-seeing. So I walked across the street to check out the actual market (even though everything was closed down by that time) and then I saw it. (more…)
Saturday night I had the privilege of going out to a bonfire get-together to celebrate a friend of mine’s engagement. He had proposed earlier that day and wanted to have a bunch of friends and such get together to celebrate that night. It was a really great time, but one thing was pretty clear shortly into the evening: this was a crowd of people different than me. There were a number of cowboy hats, boots galore, belt buckles, huge trucks, country music, and yes… line-dancing. It was such a great night and I think, in part, because I was out of my “usual.”
That’s the problem with life. We get so busy spending time around people who are just like us that we can start to lose an appreciation for variety, for uniqueness. I was talking yesterday briefly with a student about how… undiversified our area is. There are so many good things about this area, but we do tend to lose out on the cultural diversity that the United States is really known for. But even still, here, there are different kinds of people. People that see life differently than we do. And how do we handle them? (more…)
A friend of mine is having her last service as youth pastor at a particular church tonight. She is transitioning into the unknown where currently she doesn’t know what the next step is. That is part of the reason for this article. Also, October is traditionally Pastors Appreciation Month. It’s a month where people honor their pastors and spiritual leaders by giving them gifts or donations. There are a number of different ways to honor your pastor, or different ways to show a pastor who is maybe leaving how much you really love and cherish them. But really it’s as easy as 1-2-3, minus the 2-3. (more…)