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Thursday, December 22, 2011


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-"In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid..."-Luke 2: 8-10

For the shepherds, Christmas Eve played more like a horror movie than a children's program, at least at first.  They were silently going about the business of keeping the flock alive in the wilds of Galilee when suddenly, BOOM, out of nowhere an angel appears with God's glory, whatever that might be, shining all around him.  Imagine yourself in that situation and tell me you wouldn't be terrified.  So, of course, the first thing the angel says to them is, "Do not be afraid."  To be honest, I'm amazed that was enough.  Usually if you have to tell someone not to be afraid, they are still pretty afraid.  But apparently the angel's voice was enough to get the job done, and they listened.

We don't often associate Christmas with anything scary, far from it.  And yet there is an underlying element of discomfort if we are attentive to it.  Christmas, the birth of Christ, means something very profound to all of us.  Once we have accepted that indeed there was a moment in history where God burst into the world in the form of a child for the purposes of changing the course of human history, then we realize that we ourselves must live our lives in response to such a moment.  This is not something that happened, drew the attention of the world for a moment, then set it back about its business. The birth of Christ, Christmas itself, changed the course of the world forever by changing the lives of billions of the worlds inhabitants over the last 2,000 years; by changing the lives of us too!  Christmas is about the often terrifying reality of change.  Once it happens, and we understand what happened, we cannot just go back to our mundane lives and tasks, we can't just stand around staring at sheep.  We have to do something different.  We have to seek Christ.  And that is no small thing.

Prayer:  Holy God, I thank you for loving me, and guiding me in this life.  Help me to make my life about you, and to be guided by your truth.  This Christmas weekend, guide me to worship you, grow in you and be transformed by you.  Then help me to seek you.  I pray in Jesus' name.  Amen.

[Phillip Blackburn, First Presbyterian Church]


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