Practising for Christmas

Week 4: Nurturing the habit of welcoming Salvation.

Luke 2: 8-20 – Angels & Shepherds – Practising our appropriate response: worship!

C S Lewis once wrote, ‘Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important’.

If it is true, as Lewis was asserting, then the Advent story is one half of the most awe-some story in the world (literally so). And if so, then this passage is the high-point of that half-of-the-story. Who would have dared to place angels (messengers of God) and shepherds (irreligious outsiders) in the same scene – both as models of worshippers in the events of the incarnation? The angel of verse 9 announces the wonder-full event and his ‘colleagues’, a multitude of them, are caught up in the joyful celebration announcing glory to God (gazing upwards) and peace among men (reaching downwards). The shepherds’ contribution, at first, seems more earthy, but on closer examination, reveals that God has shown up, as his glory envelopes their evening experience, and the natural response is to go quickly to check if this can be so. They go in search of this new-born child; we presume, they worship him and then begin to spread this amazing message – that the hopes of their people, even the religious people, have been realised, in the birth of a baby. Immanuel, the Saviour of the world has come! The response of these model worshippers – is to sing the praise of God (‘O Come Let Us Adore Him’), to ‘check out’ the Saviour, and then to ‘glorify and praise God for all they had heard and seen’ and tell of this wonder to the people they met.

When someone encounters God it’s not surprising that God makes an impact on their life and they respond by worshipping him and telling others of what God has done/what a difference God has made.  As you journey through Advent this year, how will you let this awe-some story make an impact on your life? What might help you to respond to this story – as if it was ‘new’ to you?

  • Let me invite you to a period of quiet reflection – to set aside 10-15 minutes and meditate upon each aspect of the angel’s words in verses 10 & 11. How might these verses translate into life-affecting actions for you – and for your friends and family (‘Don’t be afraid..’ and so on)?
  • In addition to attending your own carol service, why not take the opportunity to attend a Christmas service in a tradition that is far removed from your own? And invite God to reveal himself to you in the ‘strangeness’ of the experience?
  • Who can you tell this story to? Or to put it another way, how can you demonstrate the awesome love of God found in this story – his generosity, and his promise of peace, joy and hope to your neighbours, friends, colleagues and family during Advent?

Prayer: Dear Lord. Thank you that I can enter into the miracle of the Advent story today.   Overwhelm me with the wonder and significance of your incarnation. May my Advent worship this year bring joy to you and your continuing transformation in my life.  Amen.

Practising for Christmas is a series of reflections for advent contributed by regional staff from the four Baptist Associations represented by ‘Seventy-two’. Catch up with previous reflections here.