Prayer: Noel, noel. Born is the king of Israel. Amen.
Reading: Matthew 1: 18-25 (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: Yes, I know it is the end of September. Yes, I don’t believe in putting Christmas trees and decorations in stores this early in the year. Yes, I think we’ve commercialized Christmas and sometimes forget the true meaning of the holiday.
That’s why I decided to write about Christmas today. It’s just under three months until the big day. I’m not suggesting it’s time to start getting ready; but, I would challenge us to maybe start thinking about how we might slow down this year and enjoy the Advent and Christmas season.
Recently, I thought about Christmas 1997 when I was attending a Christmas Eve service with my parents and sister. This was before my sister and I were married and I didn’t have children, so our holiday revolved around us and our parents. I believe we were at the 11:00 worship and the hymn, “The First Noel” was being sung and my dad, sister, and I began acting the hymn out with motions. We were smiling and laughing as we did it and it really made it quite fun. I’m sure that if someone from another pew looked over at us, they probably thought we were being irreverent, but we are just the opposite. We were celebrating Jesus’ birth and the Spirit moved us to do it in this way. That’s one of the things I really like about camp. We praise God through song, dance, and other unconventional methods. Sometimes, I wish more traditional churches would do the same. I think it’s refreshing to have those meaningful religious experiences as my family did on that Christmas Eve. Almost 20 years later, I remember doing that and feeling good about praising God in that way.
And so, as you think to the upcoming Advent and Christmas season, maybe now is the perfect time to plan a way to slow down and enjoy the season and the people who make the season great. And, make sure you carve out time to spend with God, marveling over the birth of His own son. –Chad Hershberger
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