Many people adopted other cultures whilst divisions arose amongst religious leaders leading to various denominations and sects competing for prestige – think Pharisees and Sadducees
The amazing thing is that it is not another self-help book! – The message of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection is all about grace – unmerited favour.
Of course the shepherds quickly made their way to see Jesus. How privileged were those shepherds? Not just to be visited by an angel and told the good news, but to be one of the first people to ever meet Jesus Christ our Saviour! Not surprisingly it had huge impact on them.
The Almighty is our gentle God. Isaiah paints a tender picture of our God the Shepherd gathering lost and directionless lambs in His warm, big and mighty arms, cuddling them close to His heart. The Shepherd remembers the parents too – those with little ones, weary and tired, sleepless and having no time for themselves. Nothing escapes the notice of the gentle Shepherd.
Perhaps you are feeling hopeless at this time year and without direction, stumbling around in the dark. Open your eyes to the light that Jesus brings, gives us hope in this dark world of ours.
Before you’ve even got out of bed, you see a document on your bed stating you now own your home with no further payments. Why? How? Because you are highly favoured by the mortgage company.
Like our salvation in Jesus or miracles, we do little to nothing in exchange for them, God in his limitless love gives freely to us.
During this pandemic, a lot has been said about the sovereignty of God. Is God in control? Does He really have a plan? When we look to the Christmas story and all that led up to it, I hope it can be a reminder to us that Jesus was always part of the plan, that our God was in control then and is in control now.
People heard, and came to celebrate. Years of silence and waiting, and eventually God through his mercy gave something to celebrate. Could you imagine the feelings they were experiencing? The birth of John the Baptist came after years of longing and waiting, they had prayed for it to come, and now it had come true.
I love the image of this crowd of people watching on. Imagine the stunned faces, the confused looks and, more than likely, the fear that many are struck by. One thing is sure, though, no-one among them could doubt the conviction of what Zechariah is saying. I bet they were all listening intently, too.
In this culture, women’s worth was placed on their ability to have children. Elizabeth was old and unable to have children. She would have been looked down on by society until her long-awaited pregnancy. Elizabeth reversed social expectations as she welcomed her cousin Mary.