I hope you are enjoying your Advent calendar. We’re reading a few verses from the Bible each day as we count down until Christmas.
This week we’ll finally find our way to the stable where Jesus was born, but there will be some interesting things that happen along the way. Enjoy!
Mary’s Song of Praise (Part 2)
Read: Luke 1:51-56 (NRSVue)
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has come to the aid of his child Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
56 And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
Ponder: How do you suppose Mary and Elizabeth spent those three months together? What did they talk about? What did they do?
The Birth of John the Baptist
Read: Luke 1:57-66 (NRSVue)
57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.
59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. 60 But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” 61 They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” 62 Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. 63 He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. 66 All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For indeed the hand of the Lord was with him.
Ponder: What do you imagine Zechariah was thinking when the neighbors motioned for him?
Zechariah’s Prophecy (Part 1)
Read: Luke 1:67-74 (NRSVue)
67 Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a mighty savior for us
in the house of his child David,
70 as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
72 Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors
and has remembered his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us
74 that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness
in his presence all our days.
Ponder: The birth of John was really big news for Zechariah and Elizabeth. But what does Zechariah talk about as soon as he is able to speak? Why do you think he did that?
Zechariah’s Prophecy (Part 2)
Read: Luke 1:76-80 (NRSVue)
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give his people knowledge of salvation
by the forgiveness of their sins.
78 Because of the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
79 to shine upon those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
80 The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.
Ponder: What are Zechariah’s hopes for his son?
The Birth of Jesus
Read: Luke 2:1-7 (NRSVue)
1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no place in the guest room.
Ponder: The trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem was about 90 miles. Imagine the conversation between Joseph and Mary when they found out they would have to make the trip. What do you think they said to each other? Remember that they couldn’t use an airplane or a train or a car.
The Shepherds and the Angels (Part 1)
Read: Luke 2: 8-14 (NRSVue)
8 Now in that same region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for see, I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
Ponder: Retell this part of the story from the perspective of one of the sheep. What did you see? What did you hear? How did it make you feel?
The Shepherds and the Angels (Part 2)
Read: Luke 2:15-20 (NRSVue)
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them, 19 and Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told them.
Ponder: Why do you suppose the shepherd’s words meant so much to Mary? What do you think it means when it says that she “pondered them in her heart”?
Merry Christmas! Here is a poem about the meaning of Christmas by Christina Rosetti. It’s called “Love Came Down at Christmas.” You can listen to it and sing along if you click on the link.
Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.
Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, love divine;
Worship we our Jesus:
But wherewith for sacred sign?
Love shall be our token,
Love shall be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and to all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.
Ponder: How will you show a sign of love today?