December 2021 Reflection
Luke 2: 8-12 (NRSV)
8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 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: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
Usually in December we have the opportunity to attend a Christmas Eve service, to sing carols and hear again the STORY – the good news of great joy, and to listen again to the narrative of the journey to the manger and the quaking of the shepherds and the joyful music of the heavenly choir.
December in the northern hemisphere is often cold and sometimes wet. Our usual temperatures range from +6 degrees C to -11 degrees C. It is winter after all! There are lots of outdoor activities like, skiing, snowmobiling, skating, making snow men and forts and snow angels and this is the time for family and friends.
We are not unlike the folks in the southern hemisphere in December celebrations, except while we look at snow and cold, they enjoy warm/hot and sun and sand. December ushers in the first days of Australia’s summer. The temperatures hover around +26 degrees C with lows of +15 degrees C. And December is the start of beach time in the ‘’ land ‘down under’’. Any day in December may find people swimming, surfing, sailing and barbecuing on the world’s largest island, which is also the world’s smallest continent.
Most of Australia’s immigrants came from England and Ireland, bringing their Christmas customs with them: roast turkey, ham, and rich plum pudding. While children here await the bearded jolly fellow, children in Australia may see Father Christmas in shorts on the beach.
Let’s look at December in Bethlehem. I found the average temperatures were: daytime averages +13C. and +6 C. in the over night with mist and rain. The lowly shepherds abiding with their flocks by night could have been cool to cold and damp to we as they kept watch.
‘’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 Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.’’ The shepherds had a lonely, thankless job and no one considered them significant. Yet, God chose to reveal the greatest gift of all to the lowly shepherds in the middle of nowhere. It is written “ to you’’ – that is the shepherds – were given the good news. This announcement was not given to ‘important’ religions leaders, the Pharisees, or a king, or the wealthy ones or the learned people!
The shepherds had no power or influence, so why did God choose them to receive this glorious message? Could it be that they listened, even though they could not comprehend the full value of the message they received – they did indeed listen.
After hearing the announcement they were prepared to share this good news. They could not keep it to themselves; they had to share it with others. This was too precious to keep to themselves. The shepherds carried a message of hope to all people and a message of love to the world. Based on Jesus’ opinion of the religious leaders of that day, they may not have had the same reaction. God in infinite wisdom chose just the right group of people to entrust the greatest news of eternity.
We know Jesus as: ‘the prince of peace’, ‘Dayspring’, ‘wonderful counselor’, bread of life’, ‘teacher’, ‘true vine’ and yes, ‘the Good Shepherd’.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel, come to our lives, come to our hearts, as we navigate this month of December with all the advertising and all the commercialization. May we journey through Advent to the manger once more with hope, and joy and love in our hearts.
We offer this prayer: Holy and Loving One, remind us again and again that LOVE came into our world to be shared. Remind us that as we strive for peace, there is hope in the present and in the future. All this we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Now, may the grace of God be with you May the love of Jesus sustain you and
May the power of the Holy Spirit be with you now and always. Amen.
A Prayer for Christmas Eve.
Gracious and Loving One, we pause to reflect on this Christmas Eve, to offer our thankfulness for the love that surrounds us, for the joy that seems to overwhelm us and for this contemplative time of peace and good will. We pray for family and friends near and far away. May they know they are loved and remembered. In a time of neighbour against neighbour and nation against nation, we pray for understanding and peace.
Now, we set aside all that would keep us from the Christ child, and open ourselves to the wonder of this Eve. May we know the hope, peace, joy and peace in this time and forever. All this we ask in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.
Be blessed. Be at peace, be well and be safe. Phyllis B.
December 2021 Scriptures and special days
December 5 Advent 2
Malachi 3: 1-4 (A refiner’s fire and a launderer’s soap) Philippians 1: 3-11 (I thank God every time I remember you) Luke 3: 1-6 ( A voice calling in the desert)
Point to Ponder: As we move through December, what memories do you carry of years gone by? Perhaps the cleaning, decorating and shopping.
What are the moments of pure pleasure and grace that you remember? How have these memories helped shape the person you are today?
December 12 Advent 3
Zephaniah 3: 14-20 (Sing, daughter of Zion, God comes to bring you home) Philippians 4: 4-7 (Rejoice, Again I say – Rejoice)
Luke 3: 7-18 (John warns the crowd)
Point to Ponder: We have lived for months with warnings.
How have we responded as individuals and as a community of faith?
Have we listened attentively and discerned the changes needed to navigate this new reality we live in?
December 19 Advent 4
Micah 5: 2-5a (Out of Bethlehem in Judea will come a leader) Luke 1: 39-55 (Mary visits Elizabeth)
Point to Ponder: Are we so busy getting things done, groceries, gifting, cards and letters, that we set aside the story of the journey to the manger?
How can we uncomplicate our lives and redirect our energies?
December 24, Friday, Christmas Eve
Isaiah 9: 2-7 (A child is born to us) Luke 2: 1-20 (Jesus’ birth)
Point to Ponder: A Christmas Eve tradition has been to sing carols, read the birth story and join family and friends at church, at home or away. After months of restrictions, how do we share the hope, peace, joy and love of Christmas with others?
December 25, Saturday, Christmas Day
Isaiah 62: 6-12 (Prepare the way for the people) Luke 2: 8-20 (Shepherds and angels)
Point to Ponder: The babe born in a manger was unique and special. He was not what people expected. A Surprise! How does God surprise us now?
December 26 First Sunday after Christmas
Colossians 3: 12-17 (Clothe yourselves with compassion and kindness) Luke 2: 41-52 (The boy Jesus learns at the temple)
Point to Ponder: Jesus begins to live into his calling – a true test of relationships. How have we had to let go – to change- to understand anew and rebuild relationships?
December 31. Friday, New Year’s Eve.
Psalm 20: 4 – May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed