And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. Luke 2:20
Dear heavenly Father, for some of us, yesterday was the “greatest” Christmas, ever in terms of healthy, caring relationships; incredible “eats”; thoughtful gifts—both given and received; and above all, a day centered on you for the indescribable gift of your Son, Jesus.
For others of us, it was a day marked with tension, dashed hopes, brokenness. For still others, it was the first Christmas with an empty chair where a loved one used to sit, or a day spent all by ourselves in great loneliness.
Father, my prayer today is for all of us, no matter what yesterday was like. For even our best days are in need of the gospel, and none of our worst days are beyond the reach of the gospel.
When the shepherds left Jesus’ manger, they were still shepherds. They still couldn’t worship at the temple; they still couldn’t give testimony in a court of law; they still were stereotyped as thieves by many in their community.
And we shouldn’t romanticize what Joseph and Mary did the day after Jesus was born. A five-star inn in Bethlehem did open up the next day; some of those harking angels didn’t stay around to be round-the-clock-nurses; and Mary’s body wasn’t spared all the normal pain of birthing and challenges of afterbirth. Indeed, Jesus came to save us from our sins; not from our humanity.
Father, thank you that we’re believers, not make believers. We don’t have to pretend about anything. Christmas isn’t a season in which we’re supposed to be transported into a super-spirituality, rising above reality. The gospel isn’t about denial but is about learning to delight in you, no matter what is going on. We praise you that Jesus came into a real world where everything is broken, but he did come to make all things new, starting with us.
Please give each of us the special and the common grace you gave the shepherds. Let us hear and let us see more of Jesus—even if we remain “shepherds” the rest of our lives. Enable us to glorify and praise you in all circumstances, Father. As on the night of Jesus’ birth, everything you have told us in your Word will come to pass. This is good news for shepherds and kings alike. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ faithful and loving name.