Prayer: God of Love, Thank you! Thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus. Thank you for the good news of his birth. Thank you for the way he challenged us and loved us and changed everything. Thank you for his birth in Bethlehem, for Mary and Joseph who loved him, for the angels who sang your glory, and the shepherds who went with haste to meet you. Thank you for Jesus! Amen.
Reading: Luke 1: 1-20; 2: 1-20 (Click to read text)
Stop and GROW: After reading the text, discuss/ponder the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Book of Faith questions, which are part of Camp Mount Luther's GROW Time with campers.
QUESTION 1: What scares, confuses, challenges, or doesn’t make sense to me in this text?
QUESTION 2: What delights me in this text or is my favorite part of the story?
QUESTION 3: What stories or memories does this text stir in me?
QUESTION 4: What is God up to in this text?
Reflection: It wasn’t really an out of bounds kind of question. “How can I be sure of this?” Any of us in Zechariah’s shoes would have probably asked the exact same thing in the face of something so unbelievable. “Are you sure?! Because……woah. This is big.”
And Gabriel makes him stop and listen. Literally.
“I am Gabriel,” he says. (I imagine rolling thunder in the background here.) “I stand in the presence of God and I have been sent to speak to you and tell you this good news.” (lightning, too.) “And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.” (silence. the pin-dropping kind.)
And before old Zach can say another word….bam. Mouth closed. It’s like a gigantic months-long message to just shut up and listen. Listen to what God is doing. Listen to how God can do amazing things. Stop talking and just listen. Just. Listen.
Today is Christmas day. And for the entire month that led up to this day, there has been a lot of noise around us. But today, it seems as if just about everything gets quiet. Businesses shut down for the day, restaurants are closed, only a few gas stations remain open for the sake of travelers who need to get home. But the streets are quieter. And the pace slows down. And families stay in their pajamas together and enjoy the time spent. It is as if the world is willing to listen just a little bit on this special day.
Jesus brings us a lot of moments where we might think “how can this be?” But on this day, when we celebrate his birth, maybe the best thing to do is to follow Zechariah’s lead and simply listen. Listen for the spirit of God today. Listen for the message of indescribable love that continues to change the world. Listen for how much God loves you. —Sarah Hershberger
M any years have come and gone since Angels loudly sang
E mannuel was here on earth and church bells loudly rang
R ising up were shepherds who heard the heavenly noise
R esting in their fields that night were shepherd men and boys
Y oung children everywhere tell of the birth that night
C oming down from heaven, God was here to make things right
H igh above the town was a star which was shining bright
R eady to lead the wisemen there as they followed the star’s light
I n our own special ways, we celebrate this birth each year
S alvation was why this child came down- that message is so clear
T o free us from our sinful ways and make us clean again
M ay we not forget that message as we wish peace to our fellow human
A nd so as you celebrate this year, the birth of Christ, our Lord
S ay little prayer of thankfulness to God above, adored.
-Poem by Chad Hershberger
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