No Room for Them

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. – (Luke 2:4-7, NIV)

 

This portion of the Christmas story seemed to strike a new chord within my heart this past week, as my pastor pointed out the scandal and outrage that would have been associated with an unwed woman expecting a child who was engaged to a man with whom she had no intimate relations. Joseph came from the house of David. His heritage was quite significant, and his family name was likely known. Everyone was expected to return to the place of their familial ties for the census, so it is quite conceivable that Joseph had numerous relatives who were also traveling to Bethlehem at the same time. Under normal circumstances, a family would have traveled and stayed together, yet Mary and Joseph made the journey alone. Their isolation leads me to believe that they were being shunned by the family, and left to their own devices to survive. Upon their arrival in Bethlehem, they were unable to find a proper place to stay. What I found intriguing is that each version of scripture that I read, says that “there was no room for them. This leads me to believe that perhaps there was room, but they were turned away because of societal standards, and left stranded and a bit desperate. Who was the inn keeper who did at last show some compassion, and at least allow the pair shelter as the time drew near for Mary to give birth? It is both incredible and admirable to think of Mary and Joseph and all that they must have gone though, just to get to the stable birth. Additionally, the thought of the two of them having to deliver the Son of God in their surroundings is overwhelming. She was quite young and he was a carpenter; nothing in their life experience had likely prepared them for what they endured, other than the very presence of God with them. May we continue to ponder with awe and wonder, the miracle of God with us, this most holy season.

 

Hard was the journey, No Room for Them

To travel alone;

This chosen couple,

So far from their home.

Upon arrival,

No room granted them;

Just a small stable,

In old Bethlehem.

The time had arrived,

For the babe be born;

Courage delivered,

Wrapped Him in cloths torn.

No isolation,

Could stand in God’s way;

Strength to them granted,

Right there in the hay.

Though they’d been alone,

It did not last long;

For angelic hosts,

Announced this with song.

The shepherds they came,

They followed the light;

In awe and wonder,

On that holy night.

The baby swaddled,

God’s very own Son;

The faith of this pair,

God’s will had been done.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the miracle and wonder that surrounds the story of You sending Your Son to us as a baby, in humble beginnings, to make Him approachable to all. Thank You for showing us Your faithfulness through the hearts of the people that were part of Your story, and modeled what it is to trust in You. Forgive us for forgetting the depth of Your love that sent Your Only Son to us so that we could have life in You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would pause and ponder in wonder, the miracle and the majesty of all that You have done. Show us how to love those around us in a way that gives insight and understanding to Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow Your story to fill our hearts and minds this Christmas. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:3

Simeon’s Story

A man named Simeon lived in Jerusalem. He was a good man who was devoted to God. He was waiting for the time when God would come to help Israel. The Holy Spirit was with him. The Holy Spirit told him that he would not die before he saw the Messiah from the Lord. The Spirit led Simeon to the Temple. So he was there when Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to do what the Jewish law said they must do. Simeon took the baby in his arms and thanked God: “Now, Lord, You can let me, your servant, die in peace as You said. I have seen with my own eyes how You will save Your people. Now all people can see Your plan. He is a light to show Your way to the other nations. And He will bring honor to Your people Israel.” Jesus’ father and mother were amazed at what Simeon said about Him. – (Luke 2:25-33, ERV)

 

There are so many side stories interwoven within the story of the birth of Jesus. Simeon was a man whom had devoted his whole life to God, and was holding both the hope and the promise that he would not die before he had seen the Messiah with his own eyes. I imagine him to have been an older man, wise in his many years, overwhelmed with both joy and awe to behold this baby, as he recognized exactly Whom he was holding in his very own arms. Additionally, I picture Mary and Joseph, who had been visited by angels multiple times over the previous many months, full of wonder as they are now receiving further insight to the role their son will grow to fulfill. Despite the promised pain, Mary and Joseph took their parental roles seriously, and loved and lead their son, the very Son of God, according to what had been asked of them. May we pause and ponder the intricacies of God’s story, as we approach the celebration of Jesus’ birth. May the magnitude of the sacrifice made on our behalf, resonate in a fresh way as we celebrate this most holy season.

 

Told in a promise, simeons-story.jpg

His own eyes would see;

Coming Messiah,

The Holy baby.

On the chosen day,

When Jesus arrived;

Simeon beheld,

Promise realized.

Imagine the joy,

Awe and wonder too;

This promise fulfilled,

His hope proving true.

May we too behold,

The wonder and awe;

At our Savior’s birth,

That Simeon saw.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we have the privilege of knowing some of the side stories that occurred around the birth of Jesus. Thank You for showing us the hearts that had long held the hope of seeing the Messiah, and actually saw Him with their own eyes. Thank You that though we did not witness His birth, we have the blessing of Your Holy Spirit with us, always. Forgive us for not taking time to ponder the magnitude of what began in the manger. Teach us to seek You for wisdom and insight, and reveal more and more to us as we study Your word. Show us how to love those around us so that we can make Your love tangible to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate the wonder of Christmas, and all that unfolded surrounding Jesus’ birth. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

When times are good, be happy. – Ecclesiastes 7:14

Faithful the Shepherds

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” – (Luke 2:8-10, NIV)

 

For many of us, this is a very familiar passage in scripture. Every Christmas, for as far back as I can remember, I have heard this passage in Luke, and imagined the angel appearing to the shepherds at night, and then the shepherds making their way to see the newborn Jesus after standing in the splendor of the choir of heavenly hosts. However, I had never really wondered why the shepherd? Yesterday, my pastor unpacked the history of this passage in a way that made me ponder the message long beyond the time seated in service. Why would God make such an important announcement to those whom society considered the lowly and unclean? Additionally, how intriguing that the space where our Savior lay, was familiar and comfortable to the shepherds, rather than some palace or huge house that they would be too intimidated to approach… God does not call the equipped, but rather He equips the called. The shepherds were faithful and fearless to do the job in their fields at night, so why not use those very same traits for more? There is so much more to the story, and I am barely scratching the surface. (Click here for the link to the podcast) My greatest take-away was the gift of more – a glimpse at more of the story, more insight, more understanding, and even more to be grateful for as we celebrate this most holy season. May the God of all peace reveal more of Himself to us all this blessed Christmas season.

 

Faithful the shepherds, Faithful the Shepherds

Watching flocks by night;

When an angel showed,

Gave them a good fright.

The first words spoken,

“Do not be afraid,

For good news I bring;

Of where Jesus lay.”

The babe long promised,

Had at last arrived;

Hope for all people,

Salvation alive.

Faithful the shepherds,

Who went on their way;

To see this baby,

In a manger lay.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not call the equipped, but rather You equip the called. Thank You that You use the most unlikely of us to do incredible things, simply because we are willing. Thank You for Your goodness and grace. Forgive us for our fearfulness and stubbornness when things before us seem impossible. Teach us to trust You more, as You are God and we are not. Show us how to love those around us in a way that shines Your goodness and grace in a way that makes love tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and thank You for the greatest gift ever given. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. – 2 Corinthians 3:5

The Gift of Presence

I will make My home among them. I will be their God, and they will be My people. – (Ezekiel 37:27, NLT)

My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be My people. – (Ezekiel 37:27, NIV)

 

Long before the arrival of Christ, God had His plan in place to make things right again so that He could dwell among us. Humanity had become so broken and disconnected from God, that the only way to be restored to a right relationship with Him, was through the sending of His Son. This season marks the celebration of Jesus’ arrival; the beginning of the relationship that restored us to our Redeemer. Without Christ, we would be limited to only drawing as near to God as the outer courts of the temple. However, because Christ came, we can invite Him to be Lord of our lives, and He will come and make His home in us and among us. He no longer is God out there, but He is now the Lord who is always near. May we fix our eyes and hearts on Him who came from heaven to earth to make the way for us to know His nearness, both now and forevermore.

 

From heaven on high,Majesty Moved from the Cradle to the Cross

He came down to dwell;

So people might know,

The hope His life tells.

As we lift our eyes,

To the Lord above;

He calls us His own,

Showers with His love.

Let us fix our gaze,

This holy season;

On Christ born to us,

Our hope and reason.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that it has always been Your plan to dwell among us. Thank You that despite our sinfulness and brokenness, You made the way to restore a right relationship with You through the sending of Your Son. Forgive us for not fixing our eyes on You and the reason for the season, as we get caught up in the chaos of things that “need” to get done. Help us to slow down and settle in, so that we may meditate on the real meaning and the weight of what You have done for us all. Teach us to trust You more, as You alone are worthy of all of our trust. Show us how to love those around us in a way that spreads hope and points them to the path that leads to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace the treasured gift of Your presence this most sacred season. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; …my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:4-5

Presenting the Path of Peace

Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness… and to guide us to the path of peace. – (Luke 1:78-79, NLT)

 

Christmas is our reminder of exactly this – that Christ, our morning light from heaven, was sent to us in our darkness to guide us to the path of peace. God did this not because we were worthy, but because of His tender mercy. This most holy season is a space where we are given a vehicle to spread His loving light to those entrenched in darkness. Acts of kindness and generosity are more readily received in the name of Christmas, than any other season. May we remember God’s tender mercy that was granted to us, as the morning light from heaven shone brightly upon our own darkness, and led us to His path of peace. In this space of remembering, let us go forth and extend His mercy, light and love to all whom we encounter, so that they too, may come to know His tender path of peace.

 

Let tender mercy,Truth and Light

direct all our steps;

may we choose to love,

through our thankfulness.

As Love came to us,

from heaven to Earth;

light came to darkness,

through sweet infant birth.

The Christ who shows us,

the path to His peace;

our Mighty Savior,

from whom light’s released.

May we each embrace,

the love of our Lord;

and go give away,

the peace He affords.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the tender mercy that You have for us. Thank You that You sent Your Son from heaven to Earth, so that we who were stuck in darkness, could come to know Your glorious light. Thank You that in You, we come to know Your guidance, as You lead us to the path of Your peace. Forgive us for hiding in our darkness, or for not reaching out to those who are stuck in spaces where there is no light. Teach us to trust You more for our protection and direction, and lead us to love others with Your tender mercy in a way that shines light into darkness and points people to Your path of peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we embrace Your grace and go forth to give as we have been given. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness. – Psalm 145:7

 

 

For His Grace

For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. – (Titus 2:11, NLT)

 

God sent His own Son, so that we might come to know the truth of His grace and lay hold of the salvation set before us. Again and again, He shows us His mercy and love. It is up to us to receive what He is freely offering. Christ stepped down from heaven to earth and arrived in a seemingly ordinary way, to do extraordinary things. As we receive all that He offers, His grace is revealed through us as well. May we embrace the goodness of God’s grace this most holy season, and may many come to receive the salvation that is set before them. Let our words and deeds lovingly display the very same grace that has been granted unto us.

 

The Lord has shown us,Hearts of Thanks

His grace is revealed;

offered salvation,

Hope‘s glorious shield.

May we do likewise,

with our words and deeds;

go forth and extend,

hope to those in need.

For God has given,

so much unto us;

how can we keep from,

sharing of Jesus?

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You reveal Your grace to us again and again and again. Thank You that salvation is available to all who call on Your Name. Thank You that You receive all who earnestly seek You. Forgive us for not being agents of Your peace and grace to all people, and help us to more clearly reflect the radiance of Your Spirit who dwells within us, to all whom we encounter. Show us how to extend Your loving kindness to others in such a way, that they too may seek Your salvation. May many come into a lasting relationship with You this season. Be glorified O God, as we reveal Your grace and goodness to others through the extension of loving others well. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; …write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:5