The following reading comes from Word & Craft’s 2016 Advent Devotional. If you would like to download the full devotional, you can do so here.
Read: Luke 2:16-18
Let your mind wonder with me. What was it like as the shepherds approached the stable where Mary and Joseph sat with their newborn child? Did they call out to announce themselves to these strangers they had been told by the angel to find? Did the space smell familiar to them, full of animals and hay? Did the stable, in some ways, feel like home? As they knelt by the manger, did they weep? Did they laugh? Were they confused? Did they tentatively ask to hold the newborn? Did they tell Mary and Joseph the story of how the angels came to them in the field, hoping they would believe them, knowing they sounded just a bit crazy?
We don’t have the answers to all these questions. The Text doesn’t depict the scene in literary detail, but it does tell us what they did next.
And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. (Luke 2:17-18)
After coming face to face with the newborn Christ, the shepherds went pouring through the city telling everyone what they had seen and heard. The shepherds, who were relegated to the outer limits of the city, went through the streets of Bethlehem telling everyone about this newborn Savior. Those who were marginalized in society went to the heart of the city to proclaim what they had seen and heard.
We may not know the details of their meeting with Jesus, but we know that they came away different people because of it. We know that being welcomed into the narrative of Christ coming gripped them with a ferocity that caused them to abandon all the societal norms that they had grown accustomed to. Being brought near to the cradle of the King so powerfully reoriented their lives that they spread the word about this Child-King. The marginalized have become the first evangelists of Christ’s coming. Meeting the Messiah changed them.
Meeting Jesus changes us today. In all the spaces of our lives in which we are waiting – and continue to wait – for welcome, the embrace and welcome of Christ changes us. The Gospel of Jesus is our promise that we have been brought near to God, and that His invitation is always extended in our direction. It does not matter who has rejected you in your past; the King of the universe welcomes you. And that changes us! This reality has the power by the Spirit of God to reorient where we find our source of belonging – our hope of welcome. The coming of Christ is our assurance that if we wait the rest of our lives for a welcome that may never come, we are welcomed in the presence of God through His Son. Nothing we can do or say or be could gain us access to the Father but Christ who welcomes us in. You, sister, are welcome by God. Let that sink into your soul today, and let it change you.
Spend some time reflecting on the good news that Christ has come. Thank God for granting us salvation through Jesus, and ask Him how He might desire to change you as a result.