We celebrated at our annual thinplaceNASHVILLE Christmas party this past week…in person and online. Our Sunday gathering was actually around our table for the first time since March 2020. We’ve met outside and had picnics together, but it was so good to gather, eat dinner and laugh in real time!
It was truly WONDERFUL to just be together! And it was WONDERFUL to gather on Zoom too! To laugh and share our Christmas memories, ugly sweaters, and Secret Santa gifts with each other.
Throughout Celtic Advent and into Traditional Advent, we’ve been practicing walking in WONDER.
How are you doing with that practice? Maybe you are in need of a reminder to use your shoes each day. As you put them on, Ask Jesus to help you WALK IN WONDER! Try using your Wonder Shoes or Advent Socks this week.
And see what God shows you!
To help you get started: What is a favorite Christmas tradition from childhood that brings you wonder, makes you smile?
Is there a favorite dish, baked good, meal, or tradition that brings the wonder of Christmas back to you?
Share your story or a recipe with your friends or family this week. Take a drive around town and look at Christmas lights, or turn off the lights except for the Christmas tree and sit in quiet or listen to your favorite Christmas songs. Listen to Handel’s Messiah
or listen to one of these
NOW let’s consider the WONDER that is about to appear! And take in the WONDER of the Shepherds and Mary and Joseph at the Birth of Jesus in LUKE 2: 1-20
READ IT in the PASSION TRANSLATION
LUKE 1: 1-20 THE PASSION
2 1–2 During those days, the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus, ordered that the first census be taken throughout his empire. (Quirinius was the governor of Syria at that time.) 3 Everyone had to travel to the hometown of their family to complete the mandatory census. So Joseph and his wife, Mary, left Nazareth, a village in Galilee, and journeyed to their hometown in Judea, to the village of Bethlehem, King David’s ancient home. They were required to register there, since they were both direct descendants of David. Mary was pregnant and nearly ready to give birth.
6–7 When they arrived in Bethlehem, Mary went into labor, and there she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped the newborn baby in strips of cloth, and Mary and Joseph laid him in a feeding trough since there was no available space in any upper room in the village.
8 That night, in a field near Bethlehem, shepherds were watching over their flocks. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared in radiant splendor before them, lighting up the field with the blazing glory of God, and the shepherds were terrified! 10 But the angel reassured them, saying, “Don’t be afraid, for I have come to bring you good news, the most joyous news the world has ever heard! And it is for everyone everywhere! 11 For today in Bethlehem a rescuer was born for you. He is the Lord Yahweh, the Messiah. 12 You will recognize him by this miraculous sign: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in the feeding trough!”
13 Then all at once in the night sky, a vast number of glorious angels appeared, the very armies of heaven! And they all praised God, singing:
14 “Glory to God in the highest realms of heaven! For there is peace and a good hope given to the sons of men.”
15 When the choir of angels disappeared and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go! Let’s hurry and find this Word who is born in Bethlehem and see for ourselves what the Lord has revealed to us.” 16 So they hurried off and found their way to Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in a feeding trough.
17 Upon seeing this miraculous sign, the shepherds recounted what had just happened. 18 Everyone who heard the shepherds’ story was astonished by what they were told.
19 But Mary treasured all these things in her heart and often pondered what they meant.
20 The shepherds returned to their flock, ecstatic over what had happened. They praised God and glorified him for all they had heard and seen for themselves, just like the angel had said.
What do you notice?
What is missing that you always thought was there?
What does the Holy Spirit Highlight just for YOU TODAY?
I love that the shepherds don’t hesitate! They don’t wait til the next day to go to Bethlehem. They are so caught up in the wonder of the Angelic host that they are ready to act! What is a WONDERFUL thing of God you’d like to tell others about? Who is someone who needs to know the WONDERFUL love of God this year? Begin to pray for them to feel God’s love and ask Jesus to show you tangible ways to show this love to them!
I wonder how many doors they had to knock on to find the baby in a manger, or how long it took them. Were people annoyed at being awakened by dirty shepherds in the middle of the night? Did these townsfolk get excited too and go with the shepherds? What would you have done?
I wonder what Mary and Joseph thought of this band of young shepherds coming to visit and sharing their story about the angels?
Like Mary, What do you need to ponder in your heart this last week of Advent as we approach Christmas?
Use ART to help you connect with the Story…
Check out Nativities around the World from contemporary artists….
website of NATIVITIES AROUND THE WORLD to help you engage with the WONDER of the story….
What do you notice? What speaks to you today?
Melani Pyke is a Canadian artist who sells her beautiful work on Etsy.
You can buy a print of this amazing painting here.
Learn more about Henry Ossawa Tanner, African American artist who studied and worked in the United States and Paris in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s
LEARN MORE HERE:
As a part of your WONDER PRACTICE this week, if weather permits, take time to sit outside and stargaze. Imagine the sky filled with angels. You might want to read Luke 2 again or listen to it being read. Allow the heavens to declare the WONDER and GLORY of God. Allow the beauty of the moon and stars to fill you with WONDER! and the moon will be full this Saturday night, December 18th, 2021
Calm us as we wait for the Gift of Jesus.
Cleanse us to prepare the way for his arrival. Help us to slow down and prepare our hearts. Help us to wait and take time to be with you. Teach us to contemplate the wonder of God with us.
Teach us to know the presence of your Spirit. Teach us to bear the life of Jesus and live out his Kingdom.
Today and Always. AMEN
(adapted from Ray Simpson of Lindesfarne)
JOIN US THIS TUESDAY, DECEMBER 21st at 7pm central time for a thinplaceNASHVILLE BLUE CHRISTMAS gathering via ZOOM. If you, or someone you know needs a way to process some of the pain of this year, join us THIS TUESDAY NIGHT, DEC 21st. You will need a pitcher of water and a large glass, a blanket or throw, lemons and honey to pray with us. EMAIL email@example.com to sign up and receive the zoom link.