And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
A baby - Jesus came as a baby to a first time mother - the creator of the world as a tiny baby. Jesus, fully human and fully God, Savior of the world. Sit in awe and wonder. Merry Christmas.
We bow and worship you this day as the shepherds did when you were born.
When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
It wasn’t a rare flower or some spectacular find that people made a special trip to see. It didn’t have a fancy name plate like all the other flowers in the garden. It was only a common daisy, a humble daisy, yet it was beautiful. Our expectations can sometimes blind us to what we need to see.
John the Baptist had spent his life proclaiming a Messiah and now he is in prison. It wasn’t what he was expecting. I imagine that when he sent his disciples to ask if Jesus really was the Messiah there must have been desperation in his voice. Jesus words were not a resounding “Yes” - not what I would have expected had I been in John’s place. Instead they were calm and reassuring words for one who understood the prophecies of Messiah. Jesus was doing all the things that the Messiah was going to do, heal the sick and proclaim good news to the poor. He wasn’t the military king that everyone expected. He was humble and in his humility changed everything and gave us a hope. Jesus is Messiah.
Teach us your humility. Show us where we can bring healing and proclaim the good news in our world today.
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
If you listen to landscape photographers long enough you will eventually hear them say something like this, “I was looking for a composition.” What I have learned about making a beautiful photo is that is how the image is located or composed inside the viewfinder of the camera that makes an image that communicates. You go to a beautiful place and there is so much to see. You have to decide what you want to communicate and what needs to go into the frame. It takes time and effort. It is easy to get discouraged. On a recent trip to New England I had visited lots of waterfalls and taken lots of images and had just about given up on ever finding a good composition. Finally I got this image, the light was right, the vantage point was right, I remembered what I needed to do to the camera to get the settings to capture the photo.
Following Christ is like this. You have to work out your salvation. It takes time and effort. There are days when you feel so far away from following him, but he is always there. He will show you how you need to compose your life to communicate what he means to you and to share his love with those you meet.
Great Composer God
Give us your vision for today. Give us insight as we continue to work out our salvation. Work in us to compose your purpose.
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.
On a recent trip to the Shenandoah National Park we were on a ranger guided tour of the Big Meadow. While the ranger was telling us about all the plants in the meadow I looked over on the hill and there was this tree. It was beautiful against the blue sky and white, fluffy clouds. We continued the tour but I just couldn’t quit looking at the tree. It was drawing me to it. As soon as the ranger led tour was over I headed up the hill to the tree. I just stood there grateful to get to see this piece of God’s beauty.
Jesus is like this. He draws us to him; to his beauty; to his great love for us. The more we look at him the more we want to walk with him. The more we walk with him the more we experience his love and the more we are drawn to him, to the wide open spaces of his love.
Draw us closer to you each day. As we walk closer to you make our lives reflect your love and draw others to you.
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’
Since we retired my husband and I have taken two long road trips. Before we left we made sure that we had the maps that we needed, both print and digital, to keep from getting lost. There were a few times when we were a little unsure about which way to go and those maps came in handy. It is a scary thing to be lost on a scenic highway far away from any town and few cars. We will all travel down dark, difficult, scary roads at some time during our lives where it can be easy to get lost. God’s word is a map and resource to keep us on the road, but we have way more than that. We have a Savior who looks for us.
Bring us back when we wander away from you and get lost. Thank you for seeking and finding us.
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