The Significance of a Shepherd

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. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.” – (Luke 2:8-11, NIV)

That night, some shepherds were out in the fields near Bethlehem watching their sheep. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord was shining around them. The shepherds were very afraid. The angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid. I have some very good news for you – news that will make everyone happy. Today your Savior was born in David’s town. He is the Messiah, the Lord.” – (Luke 2:8-11, ERV)

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. – (Luke 2:8-11, MSG)

 

It is so interesting that God chose to announce the arrival of the birth of His Son to a group of shepherds who were out in their fields, guarding their flocks at night. The more I pause and ponder, the more fascinated I become with the significant roles and references to shepherds throughout the Bible. David was a shepherd boy who became a great king. Jesus was from the line of David, which is why Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem for the census in the first place. Additionally, there are many references throughout the New Testament where Jesus is referred to as the good shepherd, as He tends to us and watches over us as His flock. Shepherds care for and protect their sheep, and know them each by name. Back then, shepherds had to fight off wild animals and protect the sheep from all harm, as well as tend to the sick and injured among them. Their livelihood was dependent on the well-being of their sheep, and from what I have read, the shepherds that tended their own flocks, did so in much the same way as Jesus did for the people all around Him. The shepherds in the fields that night, though well-trained in fending off predators, had no exposure to a visit from heavenly hosts. It is no wonder that the first words prior to announcing the arrival of Jesus, was “Do not be afraid.” Between shock and awe, the shepherds took in the announcement and acted upon it. With great urgency, they hurried off to see what the heavenly hosts had proclaimed.  Lastly, in the same way that shepherds care for their sheep and that Jesus modeled for us what it is do love and shepherd those around us well, we too are called to be shepherds of God’s flock; watching over them and caring well out of our own eagerness to serve. (see 1 Peter 5:2) May we seek the Lord to have the heart of a shepherd; humble, protective, and willing to go to great lengths to love and care for those who are placed in our reach.

 

Fiercely protective,

With hearts full of love;

We’re called to shepherd,

Like the Lord above.

Watch and extend care,

Throughout night and day;

Listen to God’s lead,

So none go astray.

For God chose the hearts,

Of the faithful ones;

In love, tending flocks,

To announce His Son.

He seeks the faithful,

To shepherd and keep;

All His beloved,

His people; His sheep.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You chose the faithful and protective ones to be the recipients of the great news of the arrival of Your Son. Thank You that You call each of us to faithfully love and protect those around us in much the same way. Forgive us for the times that we have not been as vigilant as we ought to for those who we are called to care for and protect. Teach us to love and protect like You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your comfort, protections, peace and presence known in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You, the Good Shepherd, to direct our steps as we seek to love those around us as You call us to love. Amen.

 

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

 

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve. – 1 Peter 5:2

Ponder in Wonder

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 2:6-7, NIV)

While Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have the baby. She gave birth to her first son. She wrapped Him up well and laid Him in a box where cattle are fed. She put Him there because the guest room was full. – (Luke 2:6-7, ERV)

When they arrived in Bethlehem, Mary went into labor, and there she gave birth to her firstborn son. After wrapping the newborn baby in strips of cloth, they laid Him in a feeding trough since there was no available space in any upper room in the village. – (Luke 2:6-7, TPT)

 

This portion of the Christmas Story always leaves me in awe and wonder at the miraculous that took place, out among the animals. A young girl, her first child, no modern conveniences nor medical assistance, and a tremendous trust in God, are but a few of the standouts to me as I ponder the sacred stable scene. I cannot even fathom traveling on foot and donkey, ninety miles, in the heat, very pregnant, only to discover there were no rooms available – anywhere. Then, after your new husband finds someone who will give you room out with their animals, the time comes and there is no stopping what is next. By God’s grace alone, they birth takes place, and after swaddling the newborn King, Mary had only a feed box to lay Him in. Probably not the scene that she had envisioned when the angel had appeared to her and told her what would take place. That being said, she persevered faithfully to all she had been called to do. Perhaps the takeaway this morning is to be faithful in all circumstances, and choose trust, despite what we see.

 

Weary arrival, Majesty Moved from the Cradle to the Cross

No where vacant room;

The baby would come,

They needed space soon.

Placed in a stable,

Where animals lay;

Our Savior was born,

God’s plan underway.

The sacred infant,

Grew into the man;

Savior, Redeemer,

Fulfilled the Lord’s plan.

He lived and He loved,

Sinless, full of grace;

Took all upon self,

Then died in our place.

On the third day rose,

Death He overcame;

So that we might live,

As we trust His Name.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the Christmas Story does not end with the birth of baby Jesus, but rather it is only the beginning of the beautiful road to redemption that You created for all who choose to trust in You. Thank You Jesus, for leaving You heavenly throne to come to earth and live as we live and die in our place. Thank You for the incredible gift of Your amazing grace. Forgive us for pondering Your birth, without going beyond the miracle of an infant, born in a stable; for the story is so much more. Show us how to live and love in a way that makes the truth of Your story tangible to those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the humble and faithful beginnings and the powerful life, death, resurrection and ascension that brought us to relationship and the hope of eternal life with You. Amen.

 

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

 

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name, Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins. – Matthew 1:20

To Travel With Grace

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. – (Luke 2:4-5, NIV)

So Joseph left Nazareth, a town in Galilee, and went to the town of Bethlehem in Judea. It was known as the town of David. Joseph went there because he was from the family of David. Joseph registered with Mary because she was engaged to marry him. (She was now pregnant.) – (Luke 2:4-5, ERV)

Mary’s fiancé Joseph, from Nazareth in Galilee, had to participate in the census in the same way everyone else did. Because he was a descendant of King David, his ancestral city was Bethlehem, David’s birthplace. Mary, who was now late in her pregnancy that the messenger Gabriel had predicted, accompanied Joseph. – (Luke 2:4-5, VOICE)

 

Yesterday was our travel day from Seattle, Washington to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Thanks to modern inventions, our travel time, including the drive to the airport, parking, taking the shuttle, making our way through security, waiting out our flight delay, and actually arriving to our destination, took a grand total of seven actual hours, but nine with the time change. It is pretty incredible, however, that we were able to travel some 1,350 miles in one day. For Mary and Joseph, their 90-mile trek was all on foot, and perhaps donkey. There were no Quickie Marts or hotels to utilize to recharge and rest along the way, nor was there GPS or any other modern convenience that makes travel far simpler today. Additionally, Mary was very pregnant. I consider how exhausting travel can be with all of the conveniences we have now; but imagine having to travel back then, on foot and donkey, mere days prior to giving birth? As I ponder their trip and think of young Mary, I am in awe of her faithfulness and trust in God. Her role in Jesus’ story is not one for the faint of heart. She was present for each joy and heartache, and watched in awe and wonder as our Savior grew, and ultimately sacrificed all so that we might have life everlasting in Him. Perhaps as the season marches on, and we begin to feel the weariness of travel and preparations and our own set of expectations, may we take pause and reflect on the reason for the season, and give thanks to God for the perseverance and faithful obedience modeled for us as Jesus made His human entry into the world. Let us not stop there, for He did not remain a tiny baby in a manger, but He grew into a man, took all our sin upon Himself on the cross, and is seated at the right hand of the Father, ever loving us and moving on our behalf.

 

To travel with grace, To Travel With Grace

Both far and quite near;

Takes a choice of trust,

Setting aside fear.

Fear of the unknown,

What will or won’t be;

God’s always faithful,

His love won’t retreat.

He walks beside us,

Ahead, makes a way;

Guides and protects us,

Our hope to display.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your traveling mercies, as You go before us, walk beside us, and remain with us, each step of our journey. Forgive us for the times that we doubt Your nearness, as things seem more challenging than they ought to be. Thank You that You use every challenge to grow us stronger in You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would bring every fear and doubt to You from the start. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they too, may know the power of Your presence as we press forward along the path to which we are called. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and rely on You for all. Amen.

 

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

 

Who is like You, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and Your faithfulness surrounds You. – Psalm 89:8

Ponder the Wonderful Things

I will consider all Your works and meditate on all Your mighty deeds. – (Psalm 77:12, NIV)

I’ll ponder all the things You’ve accomplished, and give a long, loving look at Your acts. – (Psalm 77:12, MSG)

I ponder all You’ve done, Lord, musing on all Your miracles. – (Psalm 77:12, TPT)

 

Though I have spent much time pondering the things that God has done, especially over the last three and a half months, today is a perfect day to really recognize the mighty miracles of God, as mom and I spend our last full day together. Tomorrow, I return home to Federal Way, and mom will begin her journey in Albany, Oregon. It will be a strange separation for both of us, yet a well-timed return to my family and an opportunity for mom to spend time with my sister and her family as well.

First, the greatest gift and mightiest miracle is that mom is still here with us. The circumstances surrounding her stroke were a bit horrifying, as she was alone for three days before she was found. God, in His faithfulness, held and sustained her, protecting her life and quickening our hearts to call emergency services to do a wellness check. Already, mom has regained much of what was initially lost following the stroke. When we first arrived, her voice was so soft, it was barely audible, and words were very difficult for her to find. She had no control of the right side of her body, and was restricted in swallowing and positioning, as well as in a space of needing a bit of oxygen at night, due to the damage done. Since that time, her dietary restrictions were quickly lifted, as any swallowing concerns dissipated rapidly, and likewise did the need for oxygen. I have had the incredible blessing of watching her healing unfold. Mom has gone from no movement on her right side, to now being able to walk up and down her hallway with a platform walker, and navigate her front porch steps and into the grass with a hemi-walker. Her healing has come not all at once, but in small victories, one day at a time. Though seemingly painfully slow, to look back, it is a wonder to ponder all that He has accomplished. The thing that I remind her of most often when she becomes discouraged with the pace, is that it takes a baby a year to learn to walk, and here she is, a bit more than three months post-stroke, walking with a walker and tackling stairs! Way ahead of the curve. 😊 Additionally, God has blessed my relationship with my mom. Though we have always been close, He has orchestrated an opportunity for a tenderness that has not been present since I was small. My mom is an inspiration, and one of my reasons to live this life well.

Tomorrow will be a travel day for all of us, with me leaving in the early morning to head home, unload the car, then drive with my husband another hundred-plus miles to Anacortes to pick up my boys from their long cruise. Meanwhile, mom, Megan and Scott will be traveling the seven-plus hours to Albany, after loading and doing all of the final preparations for closing mom’s home for the season. Please join us in praying for traveling mercies, especially for mom, as she is a bit nervous to ride in a car for so many hours.

May we all take pause and ponder all of the wonderful things that God has done, for He is for us, and He ultimately uses all things for good.

 

The Lord, He is good, img_2019-08-09_07-20-292830600631577744291.jpg

In all of His ways;

He blesses, protects,

Throughout all our days.

God moves the mountains,

That stand in our way;

Or shows us the route,

The path, He’ll display.

Mighty miracles,

We cannot repay;

Instead we give thanks,

And ponder His grace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the countless ways that You love us, bless us and protect us. Thank You for all that we have to remember and ponder because You are so loving and kind. Forgive us for the times that we get caught up in the chaos of what lies before us, and do not take pause to ponder Your faithfulness that has always been with us prior. Teach us to remember so that we trust You more. Show us how to love those around us in a way that extends grace and faithfulness, and inspires faith in Your goodness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we ponder the many miracles that You have done, and all that is yet to come. Amen.

 

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

 

I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all Your works and consider what Your hands have done. – Psalm 143:5

Courage to Do the Work

“Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God is with you.” –  (1 Chronicles 28:20a, NIV)

“Be strong and brave and finish this work. Don’t be afraid, because the Lord God, my God, is with you.” – (1 Chronicles 28:20a, ERV)

“Be strong, courageous, and effective. Do not fear or be dismayed. I know that the Eternal God, who is my God, is with you.” – (1 Chronicles 28:20a, VOICE)

 

In the same way that David extended these words of encouragement to his son, Solomon, as he was tasked to build the temple for the ark of the covenant, so too, does God extend the same to us, every time we step forward in faith to answer His call. These words feel a bit like a battle cry this morning, as Friday was probably my last “true academic teaching day” of the school year, and this morning, my last morning at home for several weeks. I am called and chosen to go and be with my mom, and I would not have it any other way; however, I am human, and there are elements of the unknown that cause me to constantly have to fend off fear, as well as a sort of grieving for the loss of the close of this school year with my students and time with my family and friends at home. God is good, and I know that He has called, chosen and prepared my sister and me for such a time as this. He has orchestrated time off and supplied for our every need. We are surrounded, supported and loved; tangibly. Our spouses, children, family and friends have only encouragement and love to offer, and we are eternally grateful. We are strengthened and encouraged to be effective in the work that lies ahead, because of the warriors that are battling on our behalf, behind the scenes. God is with us, and with Him, we need not fear.

As for mom, the busy days continue with her transition day drawing nearer still. Yesterday, between her morning of therapy sessions and the excitement of my brother-in-love and nephews arriving and spending time with she and my sister, she was completely exhausted and ready to call it a day, shortly after dinner. There are two wonderful things about this, as I pause to ponder what took place. First, mom advocated for herself, and let it be known that she was tired and ready to rest. (Of utmost importance, as the brain continues to heal and repair itself during rest) Second, I imagine some of her decision was the hostess in her, that desperately desired Meg to spend some time with her fellas. That too, is another indicator of her healing, as more and more of her usual ways become evident in all that she says and does. Selfless and loving, preferring others above herself, I imagine she wanted desperately for her girl to have time with her husband and boys, and she figured the rest would do her some good as well. Win. Win.

 

Be strong, take courage,

img_2019-05-26_06-29-226071714814702286098.jpg

An early morning view from Mom’s deck. ❤

For we’re not alone;

We’re called and chosen,

And completely known.

We’ve nothing to fear,

With God by our side;

No mountain’s too great,

Nor valley too wide.

Do not be dismayed,

When things seem go wrong;

For God is present,

And He’ll make us strong.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You never leave us nor forsake us, even when the road ahead seems intimidating in the unknown. Thank You that we’ve nothing to fear, for You are always with us. Forgive us for allowing the unknowns to intimidate us into fearfulness. Teach us to depend on You to be our strength and resolve, trusting You to lead us and guide us, every step of each new day. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they may be strengthened and encouraged and shown Your love in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You to be our strength and resolve in all things. Amen.

 

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

 

We also pray that you will be strengthened with all His glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy. – Colossians 1:11

Promises Seen

Simeon took Him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, You may now dismiss Your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” – (Luke 2:28-32, NIV) 

Simeon took Jesus into his arms and blessed God. “Now, Lord and King, You can let me, Your humble servant, die in peace. You promised me that I would see with my own eyes what I’m seeing now: Your freedom, raised up in the presence of all peoples. He is the light who reveals Your message to the other nations, and He is the shining glory of Your covenant people, Israel.” – (Luke 2:28-32, VOICE) 

 

When Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple to dedicate Him to God, they met a man named Simeon, who had been waiting for a promise to come to pass. God had spoken to Simeon that he would see with his own eyes, the promised salvation for all people. For Simeon, this was the fulfillment of a promise long awaited; for Mary and Joseph, it was more to ponder in awe and wonder as they sought the Lord to raise this precious gift properly. This passage is a powerful reminder that what God promises, He will do. Simeon had been waiting and trusting that what God had said, He would do. His faith was met by him holding the Son of God in his own arms, as He dedicated Jesus to the Father. Not only did Simeon see the Savior, but he held Him and faithfully fulfilled his role in the temple as he dedicated Jesus to the Lord. God followed through on His promise to Simeon in an extraordinary way. Not only did Simeon see Him with his own eyes, but he held the Son of God, and proclaimed truth about Jesus and what was yet to come. A long-awaited promise was answered faithfully, and in a way that went beyond simply seeing. May we ever trust the Lord that His promises are true, and wait patiently for the fulfillment, as it is always worth the wait.  

 

When the time had come, Simeons Story

His parents, they knew; 

Go to the temple, 

To give God what’s due. 

Dedicate this child, 

To the Lord on High; 

And trust in His grace, 

For all of their lives. 

When the three arrived, 

They set to the task; 

Of honoring God, 

Just as He had asked. 

Simeon met them, 

And burst into praise; 

For soon in his arms, 

The Savior was laid. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are a promise fulfiller and faithful Father to all who seek You. Thank You that You equip us for all that You ask of us, and that Your promises are true. Forgive us for our impatience in the wait between a promise and its fulfillment. Teach us to trust that what You say, You will do. Show us how to love those around us in a way that brings comfort in chaos and peace in seasons of waiting. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for being our faithful Father forever. Amen.

 

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

 

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. – 2 Corinthians 1:20

Rest from the Heaviness

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – (Matthew 11:28, NIV)

“Come to Me all of you who are tired from the heavy burden you have been forced to carry. I will give you rest.” – (Matthew 11:28, ERV)

“Come to Me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.” – (Matthew 11:28, CEB)

 

It is good to work hard and complete the tasks that lie before us, yet there comes a point when we have to listen to our bodies and choose to slow down and rest. God provides the time and space necessary for us to rest, if we only choose to do so, and He grants us help and hope and relief when all seems too much to slow down. Often the thing that keeps us from resting is a busy mind. When the day is done and we actually lie down to rest, our mind continues to plan, prepare, and ponder ways to accomplish the long list that is yet to be done, further removing the rest that is so desperately needed. Thankfully, true to His word, when we turn our attention to Him, rather than what needs to be done, peace comes and rest enters in. May we ever seek the Lord in our times of weariness, for He is the perfect Provider of the rest our bodies and minds require.

 

Jesus is calling, Rest from the Heaviness

For He says to come;

All who are weary,

Seek the Holy One.

For He grants us rest,

And His perfect peace;

He loves us to life,

Grants heavy relief.

So, let us draw near,

To our God above;

As He grants us rest,

And fills with His love.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come to You in our weariness with our heavy burdens, and You will give us rest. Thank You that Your rest refreshes and provides relief so that we can press on in Your strength. Forgive us for not slowing down to rest, even though it is intended for us all. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would take time to rest and refresh in You, as You lighten our load and make our burdens bearable. Show us how to love those around us in a way that helps shoulder the heavy loads and encourages rest as it is needed. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come to You when we are weary and heavy burdened, knowing that You will grant us rest. Amen.

 

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

 

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25

 

From Heart to Mouth

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. – (Psalm 19:14, NIV)

May my words and thoughts please You. Lord, You are my Rock – the One who rescues me. – (Psalm 19:14, ERV)

May my spoken words and unspoken thoughts be pleasing even to You, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer. – (Psalm 19:14, TLB)

 

As I continue to ponder the power of words, I am reminded that what is in our heart, quickly becomes made known through our mouth. If we are meditating on the Word of God and on things of Him, that which leaves our lips ought to closely correlate. I have seen and known in my own life, the power that words have. In a moment of thoughtlessness, I have responded harshly, causing pain that required an apology and rebuilding of trust, and have likewise had moments where my words of encouragement were utilized by God in ways that I was unable to understand as they were spoken. The more we learn to love God and receive that which He has for us, the better equipped we are to love people well. The beauty in fixing our eyes on Him is that we take on His traits – His loving ways and the words that He places in our hearts to speak, lead us to do and say that which is pleasing unto the Lord. May the words that we speak and the thoughts that we don’t, be pleasing to the Lord who loves us to life everlasting.

 

May the words we speak, unseal-my-lips

And each thought we hold;

Be pleasing to You,

As You are extolled.

For where our thoughts rest,

Soon become quite clear;

As thoughts become words,

That others can hear.

Let us fix our hearts,

Securely on You;

So our thoughts and words,

Are loving and true.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we fix our minds and hearts on You, our words and thoughts are pleasing unto You. Thank You that every thought and word are shaped by where we set our hearts and minds. Forgive us for allowing external influences to jade our thoughts in a way that make our words less than pleasing before You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would set our hearts on what is true and allow You to fill our minds and mouths with Your thoughts and words that build others up in Your love. Show us how to love those around us with the words that overflow from the meditations of our heart. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to set our hearts on You, our Rock and our Redeemer, whom we desire to please with our every thought and word. Amen.

 

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

 

Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, You who have done great things. Who, O God, is like You? – Psalm 71:19

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