Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas Day


STARTLING


TEXT:  And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.  (Luke 2:8-9)


It was probably a quiet night.  Not much excitement unless something startled the sheep.  The biggest problem was likely to be staying awake.


And then the glorious wake-up call, with an angel surrounded by the glory of God, and the shepherds are on their feet, blinking, shaking.


Something to startle the sheep?  Oh, yes indeed.  Something to startle God’s sheep, to wake them up and bring them to their feet, rubbing their eyes.  A newborn baby, lying in a manger.  A Savior.  God Himself, come down to earth, come to save us.


Because it is startling, isn’t it?  People going about their everyday lives, working or sleeping, sitting, walking, eating—and then God.  God in the middle of us all, sleeping and crying and nursing.  God in a manger, the center of a humble family in a little village in a conquered country.  God-with-us, Immanuel.


But sheep don’t stay startled.  Soon enough they calm down and go back to their grazing.  And we, God’s sheep, also calm down and go back to our everyday lives.  But not alone, this time.  Now we have Jesus.  The God who was born for us, who lived and served and suffered and died for us, the Lord who rose from the dead for us—He has become our Shepherd.  He keeps us in His care forever.


THE PRAYER:  Lord Jesus, thank You for coming to live and to die and to rise again as our Good Shepherd who loves us.  Amen.



REFLECTION QUESTIONS:

What do you know about sheep, and how do you know it?

How do you most resemble a sheep?

What does Jesus do for you as your Shepherd?


Copyright is owned by the International Lutheran Laymen’s League, and used with permission of the Lutheran Hour Ministries, all rights reserved. Lutheran Hour Ministries:   https://www.lhm.org/ 



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Monday, December 24, 2018

Day 23 of Advent


ACCORDING TO PLAN?


TEXT:  And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.  And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manager, because there was no place for them in the inn.  (Luke 2:6-7)


How distressed Joseph must have been!  He could get no decent place for his wife to lie down, even though she was plainly about to give birth.  There was no room in the inn.  Whatever relatives they might have had in Bethlehem could not give them a bed.  By this point, Mary no doubt wanted nothing but a place to lie down—any place, so long as it was horizontal; but her husband wanted better for his wife and her baby.


I wonder what Joseph thought of God’s planning at that moment.  It surely didn’t resemble the kind of planning Joseph wanted!  Was he angry?  Frightened?  Worried?  We don’t know.


But in God’s eyes, everything was going according to plan.  Jesus was about to be born in the city of David, in Bethlehem, as God had promised so many years ago: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for Me One who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days” (Micah 5:2).


God came into our world as a human baby between the thighs of a woman in temporary housing.  We don’t even know if Joseph managed to find a midwife to help.  Instead of a cedar cradle, Jesus had a manger to sleep in.  Instead of silk and cloth of gold, Jesus was wrapped in homely swaddling clothes.  This is the birth God planned for Himself as He set in motion His great plan—the plan to redeem us all from the power of death and the devil.


Like Joseph, we too are often distressed when our plans aren’t working out—especially when we see our loved ones suffer as a result.  But we can take comfort in knowing that God cares for them as He cares for us, and He is working out His plans to save us all—through Jesus, our Savior.


THE PRAYER:  Lord, when my plans go wrong, help me to rest in You, trusting that You will see us through.  Amen.



REFLECTION QUESTIONS:

What plans are you making right now?

Tell about a time when your best-laid plans all went awry.

What glimpses have you had of God’s plan for your own life over the years?


Copyright is owned by the International Lutheran Laymen’s League, and used with permission of the Lutheran Hour Ministries, all rights reserved. Lutheran Hour Ministries:   https://www.lhm.org/ 

Today's Stitch Pattern



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RAVELRY LINK: ADVENT SCARF 2018


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Sunday, December 23, 2018

Day 22 of Advent


DON’T YOU KNOW ME?


TEXT:  And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.  And she gave birth to her firstborn Son and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger …  (Luke 2:6-7)


If you have children, do you remember the first time you were completely responsible for them, with no doctors or nurses or grandparents around?  I remember walking up the steps to our house with my newborn son in my arms thinking, “Where are the grown-ups?  Who’s going to take care of this baby?”  It didn’t seem right that somebody—God?—had trusted me to keep safe a tiny scrap of a human being not three days old.  Didn’t God know me?  Caring for a dog was about as far as I’d gone before!


But for Mary and Joseph, it must have been worse.  This was God’s own Son.  How could two sinful people raise the holy Son of God?  No doubt they felt totally inadequate.  After all, didn’t God know them?  How could He trust His Son to them?


However they felt, they had to go forward.  Joseph made his new family as comfortable as possible under the circumstances, and no doubt he arranged food and looked for better housing.  Mary unpacked the baby things and wrapped Jesus up warmly, and then found Him a safe place to sleep in a manger.  With the help of God, Jesus’ new parents got on with the job, trusting God to mend whatever mistakes they made.


That’s what we have to do too, isn’t it?  Perhaps you are facing some challenge right now that makes you, too, look around, wondering where the grownups are who ought to be dealing with your situation.  You know your own weaknesses all too well.  But to you Jesus says the same thing He said to Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”  And with Paul we can answer, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).  Our Savior Jesus died and rose for us.  He will not leave us alone in any of our challenges.


THE PRAYER:  Father, when I don’t know what to do, give me Your Holy Spirit to guide me and direct me.  Amen.



REFLECTION QUESTIONS:

How do you feel about caring for newborn babies?  Pets?  Sick people?  Is this comfortable for you, or not?

Have you ever felt like a “real adult” ought to be handling your responsibilities instead of you?  If you’re willing, tell the story.

When has God helped you face a challenging situation? 

Copyright is owned by the Lutheran Laymen's League, and used with permission of the Lutheran Hour Ministries, all rights reserved. Lutheran Hour Ministries: https://www.lhm.org/


Today's Stitch Pattern



PURCHASE THE PATTERN HERE:
RAVELRY LINK: ADVENT SCARF 2018


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Saturday, December 22, 2018

Day 21 of Advent


AN ORDINARY WORLD


TEXT:  In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.  This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.  And all went to be registered, each to his own town.  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.  (Luke 2:1-5)


Luke starts the story of Jesus’ birth by dating it to a tax registration—the one when Quirinius was governor, he says.  Of all the things to use to date the birth of the Son of God!  Luke could have picked something more exciting, more interesting—perhaps the death of a famous person, or the date of a battle, or the invention or discovery of some important object.  But he doesn’t do this.  Luke goes for the old, eternal standby—because as the proverb tells us, two things are guaranteed in life:  death and taxes.


In some moods this strikes me as funny.  Could Luke have possibly picked something more boring?  And yet its wholly appropriate, isn’t it?  Because Jesus was coming into a humdrum, everyday world—a world filled with ordinary, boring, and occasionally painful things like taxes.  His life would be filled with ordinary meals, ordinary activities like waking, sleeping, walking, talking to friends, and so on.  His public ministry didn’t even start until He was about 30 years old.  Before that, what?  Probably the weekly round of work, worship, and caring for a family—ordinary things.  So ordinary that Luke doesn’t even bother to write them down.


But it’s appropriate that our Savior should have had this sort of life for so long.  Because these were the kind of people He was coming to save—people like us, with work to do and taxes to pay and dinner to cook.  Few of us are rich or famous.  Our lives are not all excitement, all the time.  But our need for a Savior who loves us and understands us is truly all the time.  We will never not need Jesus, not for a single moment.  And because Of God’s love for us, we have Him—more sure and certain than anything—even death or taxes.


THE PRAYER:  Father, thank You for sending Your Son to us in our ordinary world, to be our Savior.  Amen.



REFLECTION QUESTIONS:

What is the most boring part of your day?

Many fictional so-called “gospels” make up exciting stories about miracles in Jesus’ childhood.  Why do you think they do this?

What does it mean to you that God is with you in the middle of taxes, paperwork, or cooking dinner?


Copyright is owned by the International Lutheran Laymen’s League, and used with permission of the Lutheran Hour Ministries, all rights reserved. Lutheran Hour Ministries:   https://www.lhm.org/ 

Today's Stitch Pattern



PURCHASE THE PATTERN HERE:
RAVELRY LINK: ADVENT SCARF 2018


Want to CAL with me? Here is where I will be hosting the CAL with other like-minded souls.

Ravelry Group - Melinda Miller Designs 
Facebook Group - Crochet Time with Melinda Miller Designs