And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. Luke 2:20
Heavenly Father, life just on the other side of Christmas day feels quite different to different people. For some of us, this was the “greatest” Christmas ever—in terms of caring relationships, incredible “eats”, thoughtful gifts, and above all, profound gratitude for the indescribable gift of your Son, Jesus. But for others of us, it was a really difficult day of palpable tensions, dashed hopes, and brokenness abounding. For still others, it was the first Christmas with an empty chair where a loved one used to sit, or a day spent all by ourselves with underscored loneliness.
Father, my prayer today is for all of us, no matter what yesterday was like. For even our best days are in need of the gospel, and none of our worst days are beyond the reach of the gospel. We always have more of your grace than we’re aware of and we need more than we realize.
When the shepherds left Jesus’ manger, they were still shepherds. They still couldn’t worship at the temple; they still couldn’t give testimony in a court of law; they still were stereotyped as thieves by many in their community. A five-star inn in Bethlehem didn’t suddenly open up for Joseph and Mary the day after Jesus was born. She wasn’t spared any of the normal chaos and pain of birthing and afterbirth. Angels didn’t begin showing up as round-the-clock nurses.
Father, thank you that we’re Christians, not Gnostics. We don’t have to pretend about anything. Christmas isn’t a season in which we’re supposed to be transported into a super-spirituality, rising above reality. The gospel isn’t about denial but is about learning to delight in you, no matter what’s going on. We praise you that Jesus came into a real world where everything is broken, but he did come to make all things new, starting with us.
Please give each of us the special and the common grace you gave the shepherds. Let us hear and let us see more of Jesus, even if we remain “shepherds” the rest of our lives. Father, enable us to glorify and praise you in every season and situation of life. We are a people of hope, not hype, and everything you tell us in your Word will come to pass. Our past is forgiven, our present is in your hands, and our future is looking really good. This is good news for shepherds and kings alike. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ faithful and loving name.