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Christmas Day 2017 | Christ is born today!

Editor's Note

About the author: Not a lot is known about Luke. He is believed to be the author of the books of Luke and Acts and a close friend of Paul. It is also believed that he was a physician and the only Gentile to write any part of the New Testament. Though Luke was not present with Jesus during his ministry, and likely was not a believer until after Jesus’ resurrection, Luke’s attention to detail and abundant eyewitness accounts make him a credible historian for the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

About this post: Throughout Advent we have heard from 22 (23 if you count today) authors and explored the themes of waiting, mystery, redemption, and incarnation. Our authors are from a variety of backgrounds including musicians, jewelers, pastors, students, realtors, moms, dads, grandparents, teachers, and many others. Thank you to all who contributed! I believe your writing has been a blessing to many. Thank you to all who have participated and been good sports about receiving a 7 am text every morning! May we all have a blessed and joyous Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our savior.

Incarnation | Luke 2:1-20

The Birth of Jesus

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

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; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Sunday, December 24 | The Word became flesh

Editor's Note

About the author: Scott Shelton is ZPC's associate pastor of discipleship. He and his wife Claire have been at ZPC for 24 years! They have a son in college; a daughter, who is a high school senior; and twin sons, who are high school freshman.

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of waiting, mystery, redemption, and incarnation. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.

Incarnation | John 1:1-14

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life,[a] and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

John’s gospel is different from the other three. John really makes you think about the words he chooses and the way he says things (not that Matthew, Mark and Luke don’t, but John is just different!). John chapter one has become a passage that is read as an Advent reading, although that wasn’t John’s intent. John 1 touches on many themes that we remember at Christmas, like beginning, children, light, and God being with us.

John starts his gospel, “In the beginning…”  It sounds like Genesis 1,
right? Jesus was there at the beginning of it all, is that true? Yes. Jesus is God – the Christ – and with God - he is the Word – and is God.  He was there at creation! Jesus is also light. In a world full of darkness, even the dark night in Bethlehem, Jesus is light. Even in the darkness we see today in our world, where we long for a Savior from darkness, Jesus is light. He was the “true light coming into the world.”  (John 1:9) And just as Jesus was once a child, a babe, he gives us the right to become children of God, born of God. What do we have to do to be called children of God?  We simply have to receive him and believe in his name (John 1:12).

And at Christmas, we celebrate that God is with us – Emmanuel.  John says it again in a way that makes us think: “The Word became flesh, and made his dwelling among us.”  Wait – what?  Jesus is the ultimate Word – the spoken Word of God – who became a human – to be like us – to love us – to die for us – that we might live. When we have doubts, darkness, or despair – Jesus is light, hope, and love.  So read John 1:1-14 this week – and remember that Jesus is light, Jesus is the Word, and that God is with us – because Jesus is God!

Activity

We don’t actually open up the Bible and read like we used to do.  We might just look it up on our phone or tablet, or maybe just don’t read very much at all. This week, take time as an individual or with your family at breakfast or dinner or before bed, to open up a physical Bible and read John 1:1-14.  Say: Jesus is the Word, Jesus became flesh as a baby, Jesus is the light of the world, and Jesus is Savior. Which of these images of Jesus stands out most to you?

Prayer

Thank you God that you speak to us. A long time ago, it was through your prophets like Isaiah or Moses, but most of all you speak through Jesus.  He is the living Word – who became flesh. Jesus, thank you for coming to the world that we might live because of your sacrifice.  Help us this month to reflect your light in some old way or new way, because you are the Light of the world, sent to the world to be God with us. 

In Jesus’ name we pray,

Amen.

Posted by Scott Shelton with

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