The Heart of a Shepherd

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. – (Luke 2:16-18, NIV)

 

I am continuing to revisit and ponder the story of the shepherds and the role that God called them to play when Jesus was born. Not only were they the first people to witness the miracle of His birth, but they were also the first to share the good news of His long-awaited arrival. These “lowly” shepherds understood the significance of Who was lying in the manger before them, so they went out and shared with others, the awe and wonder that they had just beheld. Rather than being repelled by these shepherds, people were amazed at what they heard. What had been foretold so long ago, had finally come to pass. I imagine it was the hope that had been missing, finally being spoken aloud. Today, it is no different. For so many, hope is absent, and the need to know about or be reminded of the arrival and the reason for the season, is critical. People who normally would be repelled by an invitation to hear, are receptive and willing to partake in candlelight services and “traditional” Christmas activities where the truth about Christmas is told. May we each have the heart of a shepherd and embrace the hope that we know, so that we too are eager to share this hope with those who need it most.

 

The shepherds who watched, The Heart of a Shepherd

Their flocks through the night;

Were by God chosen,

To see first His light.

The angel declared,

What they could go see;

As God had come down,

For you and for me.

The shepherds, they ran,

To find as they’d heard;

In awe and wonder,

They witnessed God’s word.

This amazing sight,

The glory beheld;

Led them to go out,

And of this news tell.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show the least of us Your glory in incredible ways, and give us the grace to share with others, the beauty of Your goodness and grace. Thank You that You came down and made Yourself approachable and tangible to ordinary people. Forgive us for thinking that we have to be anything other than ourselves to make a difference in the lives of those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would depend on You to show us how to love as You love each of us. Help us to make You accessible to many through our words and deeds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate in awe and wonder, the incredible gift You gave us through Your Son. Amen.

 

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

 

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

 

 

A Moment to Mark the Season

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – (Isaiah 9:6, NLT)

This will happen when the special child is born. God will give us a son who will be responsible for leading the people. His Name will be “Wonderful Counselor, Powerful God, Father Who Lives Forever, Prince of Peace.” – (Isaiah 9:6, ERV)

For a child has been born – for us! The gift of a son – for us! He’ll take over the running of the world. His Names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong Father, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. – (Isaiah 9:6, MSG)

 

My boys had their Christmas music concert last night, and the director said something that really resonated true with me. He declared that as the choir and alumni joined in the singing of Silent Night with the procession of concert choir members off of the stage and to the back of the auditorium, tonight, just as in each year prior, that moment seems to mark the start of the season in his heart. As my son, his classmates, and a number of other beautifully trained voices joined in such a hauntingly sweet a cappella version of the familiar, I understood clearly what he was saying. Being seated between those whom I love, and listening to my son sing and his twin brother play the viola beautifully with the orchestra, it all made sense. I too have a bit of a moment on the final day of school before Christmas break, when I can at long last breathe, and slow down in full awe and wonder of the real reason for the season. It is as if I am gifted a pause button as we send off our students with cheerful farewells, knowing that the things I love most about the season can be soaked in and mulled over now, rather than merely glimpsed at the usual race pace. May we each find moments to take pause and remember the real reason for this wonderful season, as the child born to us became our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God, our Everlasting Father, and our precious Prince of Peace.

 

Let us remember, 1214171825a1647878590.jpg

This season of cheer;

Why we celebrate,

Is God who came near.

He came as a babe,

So mild and meek;

Yet overcame all,

To help when we seek.

Our great Counselor,

Father forever;

Our most Mighty God,

His peace ends, never.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to us to lead us and become our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God, our Everlasting Father and our Prince of Peace. Thank You that You are so much more than we can hope or imagine, if we simply turn in trust to You. Forgive us for forgetting just how mighty You are, and how deeply Your love flows for each of us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would slow down and recognize the remarkable reason that we celebrate this season. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they too may have milestones that help set the season in their hearts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You all of our praise and adoration this most holy season, and let us again recognize in awe and wonder, all that You have done for us. Amen.

 

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

 

The joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10

Christ in Christmas

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – (Isaiah 9:6, NLT)

 

This is the night where the world takes pause to remember the most sacred occasion where heaven came to earth in the form of a baby boy. Born in a stable, not fit for the Savior of the world, yet God gave incredible assurance that this was indeed the way Mary and Joseph were meant to walk as they brought this blessed bundle forth in a stable surrounded by animals. Angelic visitations had announced that He would be born, heavenly hosts proclaimed His arrival – flooding the night sky over the heads of shepherds as they watched their flocks by night, and a bright star shone on His behalf to lead the way for those who were meant to find Him. Though not necessarily the beginning we might envision for the One who saves the world from sin and shame, Jesus’ arrival changed everything. Because He came, grew, walked in obedience, willingly laid down His life in our place, rose again and is seated at the right hand of the Father, we have way to be restored to right relationship with God. May we stop the activity on this day long enough to really recognize the significance of this most holy night that we celebrate. Jesus is the gift, and the reason we can give. Our Counselor, our God, our Father, and our Peace – these are the reasons we have light and life and love. Joy to the world, the Savior has come!

 

For a child was born,The story of Christmas metaphor represented by a manger and crown of thorns.

A Son was given;

The weight of the world,

He has forgiven.

The great Counselor,

Most mighty our God;

The Father who lasts,

Let our hearts applaud.

For He is our peace,

Born so we might live;

May we honor Him,

Through gifts that we give.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your only Son into the world so that we might be restored to right relationship with You. Thank You that You love us so much that You willingly laid down Your life for ours. Forgive us for not having our priorities in place and for forgetting the real reason for this most sacred season. Teach us to fix our eyes and hearts on You, so that all that we do is a reflection of You. Show us how to love and give as You do, so that our words and deeds are Your heart being made known to those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as so many take the time to gather with family and friends to celebrate. Let Christ be lifted high this Christmas. Amen.

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

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8

Christ Came Down

For a child is born to us, a Son is given to us. The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – (Isaiah 9:6, NLT)

 

Jesus came in a way that was relatable and approachable. There was no fanfare, nor kingly setting. Born in a lowly stable on a quiet night in an overcrowded town, He arrived with the weight of the world on His shoulders. Christ stepped down from heaven to become like us, so that we would know who He is, and how much He loves. How He lived as He was among us, demonstrated what love looks like. He touched the untouchable, healed the bruised and broken, dined with the despicable and gave His very life for ours. Today, many of us participate in candlelight services where we pause to celebrate and declare the goodness of Christ and who He is. That child born to us, grew, lived, loved, died, rose, ascended and sent His Spirit to us, so that we could have everlasting life. Because of His love and His life, we can confidently call Him: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace. May this day be filled with reminders of His goodness and grace, and may we give proper praise to He who is all of these things and so much more.

 

For born unto us,

O Holy Night

image by Rick Larson

a Son is given;

in still quietness,

He came from heaven.

Though angels proclaimed,

to shepherds at night;

most were unaware,

of this baby bright.

For though just a babe,

the weight of the world;

would rest upon Him,

as His life unfurled.

The way that He loved,

and gave all away;

brought hope to the world,

and light for our way.

Wonderful Counsel,

our great Mighty God;

Everlasting One,

creation applauds.

The sweet Prince of Peace,

delight of our days;

may we offer Him,

all honor and praise.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to us. Thank You, Jesus for taking it all upon Yourself, so that we could be set free. Thank You for Your grace and goodness, for light and life. Thank You that You are our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and our Prince of Peace. Forgive us for forgetting just how powerful You are. You are no longer a baby in a manger, but the mighty, risen Lord, seated at the right hand of the Father, contending for us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would remember that You are so much more than what the world sees. Show us how to love in such a way, that others too, may see Your majesty through our love. May many come to know You as their Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace this Christmas. Be glorified O God, as we gather to give You glory. 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

 

Our Reason to Rejoice

image by Melissa Ringstaff

image by Melissa Ringstaff

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!” – Philippians 4:4

Paul, who was in prison as he wrote this letter to the believers in Philippi, was not likely surrounded by the comforts that are currently provided at present-day penitentiaries.  However, despite his circumstances, his exhortation to his family in faith, was to REJOICE!

Rejoice, according to dictionary.com, is defined as: to be glad; to take delight.  Another definition further on grants the example: to make joyful; gladden: as a song to rejoice in the heart.  Beautiful in meaning, yet seemingly a strange pairing for a person in prison.  Paul, despite his chains, chose to rejoice and encourage others to do the same.  No, he was not rejoicing because of his current physical standings, rather he was choosing to rejoice in spite of them, because he knew well his Source of strength and provision, and the Provider of the promise held in the hope of heaven.

What is our reason to rejoice this season?

Is it in boxes and bows?  In want or in plenty?  In pain or in peace?  No, regardless of our circumstances, each one of us who knows our Savior who was sent to save us, has reason to rejoice in this season.  Our outpouring of this reason to rejoice, can be contagious to believers and seekers alike.  If we rejoice regardless of our circumstances or surroundings, we are spreading the real reason to rejoice this season.

“For unto us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders.  And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6

That which was foretold in Isaiah, came to pass.  Our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God, our Everlasting Father, and our Prince of Peace, provides our every reason to rejoice this season.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son so that all who accept Your gift of grace, might come to know You as Christ the King.  Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to get in the way of our rejoicing in this most sacred season.  May each of us really remember our reason to rejoice this season.  Thank You that regardless of our current circumstances, our future glory rests in You.  May our joy be evident in You, and may we allow You to lead us each to love in a way that would guide hearts to Your goodness and grace, so that others too, might truly rejoice in the remarkable reason for this sacred season.  Amen.

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