Theme of the Week: Advent
Bible Verse: “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.’” “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:8-12, 14
Scripture Reading: Luke 2:1-21
I grew up in a region of the USA that is the butt of many jokes due to the systemic poverty, drug addiction, poor education, and general sense of backwardness that pervades my home state. Not only did I grow up in an oft-maligned region of the US, I’m also from the wrong side of the tracks.
As a first-generation college student with a wardrobe made up of hand-me-down clothes, I know firsthand the struggle and fear of navigating the uncertain world of higher education.
I know the anxiety of being publicly mocked for the amusement of others. I know the embarrassment of having my intelligence and competency questioned because of the way I talk. I know what it’s like to be chastised for getting angry at the incessant joking about my home, family, and heritage.
I know what it’s like to be an outsider. The feelings of confusion and embarrassment that come with missing a social cue. The feelings of sadness and inadequacy that come with an empty wallet. Getting a B instead of an A because your work schedule prohibited you from studying as much as you should have. Been there…done that.
In many ways, the shepherds in this passage are my people. Hardworking outsiders who live toward the bottom of the social and societal hierarchy—sleeping outside and working the night shift just to make ends meet. They are not people of means or great importance. To be sure, if a foreign dignitary were to have visited Bethlehem, they wouldn’t have been taken to meet the Shepherds. And yet, these are the folks to whom the angels came announcing the peace of God’s favor.
Far too often many of us assess our worth based on what others say about us. We feel anxious, angry, and ashamed of who we are, where we’re from, or what we’ve done. To all of us who’ve ever felt that way, the message of Advent is that Jesus has come to offer peace to the anxious, angry, afraid, and ashamed.
Prayer: Father, Thank You for seeing the outsiders. Thank You for running toward my fear, anxiety, anger, and shame, and offering Your peace in its place. Just like the shepherds, I have felt overlooked and pushed aside but You lavished your favor upon me through the gift of Your son, Jesus. Give me the grace to live in the light of Your peace and be a conduit through which it can spread to others.
Reflection: What is crowding out the peace of Christ in your life right now? In what ways have you experienced the favor of God resting upon you? Are there fears, shame, or anxieties that Holy Spirit is inviting you to confront and seek freedom from?
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