8 In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. 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, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: 11 Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped tightly in cloth and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:
14 Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to people he favors!
15 When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”
16 They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the manger. 17 After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had seen and heard, which were just as they had been told.
21 When the eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus—the name given by the angel before he was conceived. 22 And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were finished, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (just as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every firstborn male will be dedicated to the Lord) 24 and to offer a sacrifice (according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons).
25 There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel’s consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took him up in his arms, praised God, and said,
29 Now, Master,
you can dismiss your servant in peace,
as you promised.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation.
31 You have prepared it
in the presence of all peoples—
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and glory to your people Israel.
33 His father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and told his mother Mary: “Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed — 35 and a sword will pierce your own soul—that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
Dear God, when last we left off with Joseph he was sitting in a stable with his fiance and their new child. He was in the middle of some very weird circumstances. How was he to believe any of this? Surely that dream must have been a mistake. Surely he shouldn’t have agreed to take Mary as his wife. There had to have been doubts.
Then you accomplished two things at once. Well, actually several things at once. You sent him and Mary some shepherds with an amazing story. What a great affirmation!! They didn’t only tell Joseph and Mary that God had told them about the baby. They told the new parents that the angel had told them where to find them. They weren’t alone! You knew exactly where they were. In the moments before the shepherds arrived, Mary and Joseph might have felt alone and scared, but what an amazing encouragement this must have been to them.
The reason I say this accomplished several things at once is because I am sure this forever changed those shepherds’ lives too. You were just showing up and encouraging all kinds of people on that holy night.
Then you sent them more encouragement. Simeon. I know this was a big deal because of verse 33: His father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. I’m sure the emotional roller coaster of the last several months must have worn them out. Joseph alone when from feeling betrayed by Mary, to relieved after the angel visit, to overwhelmed in a manger, to encouraged by the shepherds, to left in wonder by Simeon. Anna, would come along in a bit and have something to say too.
As I go through my own little roller coaster now, I am reminded that you are the constant. As I type this, our world is in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. People are dying. People are scared. People have lost jobs. Domestic violence is increasing. At the same time, neighbors are reaching out to neighbors and loving on each other. People are looking for ways to get back together as the church. And on a personal level, you have brought me different encouragements along the way. Encouraging phone calls. Encouraging donations.
Father, help me to stay in the middle of your presence and not swing too wide in enthusiasm or despair. Help me to see all of this with your eyes. Of course, I will never be able to know what you know–nor should I be able to–but I can surely see in the moment at least a little of what you see. Give me the serenity, the courage and the wisdom I need to get through this day.
In Jesus’s name I pray,