The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2:20
For others of us, it was a really difficult day. Palpable tensions… dashed hopes… brokenness abounding. For still others, it was the first Christmas with an empty chair where a loved one used to sit, or a day spend all by ourselves in excruciating 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 worse 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. As though, all of the sudden, a 5-star Inn in Bethlehem did open up… as though Mary’s body would’ve been spared all the normal chaos and pain of birthing and afterbirth… as though angels started showing up as round the clock wet nurses.
Father, thank you that we’re Christians, not Gnostics. 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 learning to delight in you… no matter what’s going on. We praise you that Jesus came into a real world where everything is broken, but he came to make all things new… starting with us.
Please give each of us the special and the common grace you gave 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, Father, for you are not a man that you would lie about anything. Everything you’ve promised us in your Word will come to pass. The gospel really is true. Jesus really is making all things new. Your grace really is sufficient. This is good news for shepherds, kings and us alike. So very Amen, we pray, in Jesus’ faithful and loving name.