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Wednesday, Dec 6 | A time of waiting

Editor's Note
About the author: Jenni and her husband Scott have been ZPCers for  more than 13 years. They have a high school aged daughter, a son in middle school and twin boys, who are in 1st grade. Jenni volunteers in the ZPC office and also coordinates the Shepherd Tote ministry.

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of waiting, mystery, redemption, and incarnation. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.

Waiting | Luke 2:8-14

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:8-14 ESV)

The season of Advent is all about waiting and expectation. It reminds us of the Israelites waiting for thousands of years for their promised king to arrive. It reminds us of Mary and Joseph’s waiting several months for Jesus’ foretold birth. And it reminds us of how we are waiting on Jesus’ glorious return, at which point God’s kingdom will be restored and there will be no more sin or suffering.

In Luke 2: 8-14, God announces Christ’s long-awaited birth via an angel sent to a few lowly shepherds. Until the angel appeared to them, these shepherds—social and religious outcasts—may not have even known that they were “waiting” on a savior. We aren’t told whether the shepherds were Jewish or Gentile, whether they believed in our God or in any god at all. Thought to be “unclean” due to their work with dirty animals, they were banned from temple worship. Considered untrustworthy, they were unable to testify in a court of law. Lumped in with the tax collectors and prostitutes of their time, they were shunned by even the non-religious of society. The shepherds in this story likely felt hopeless and stuck. They were simply going about their daily business of herding sheep when their lives were forever changed by an angel’s announcement of “great joy that will be for all the people,” a savior “who is Christ the Lord.”

Isn’t it interesting, and oh-so Jesus-like, that the first people we know of (outside of Mary and Joseph) to learn about Christ’s birth were social/religious outcasts? And how ironic that, up until that moment, they may never have even realized they’d been waiting on or needed a savior? They were just going about their business, having conceded themselves to the fact that their lives on Earth were as good as they were going to get, when they were invited to personally meet for themselves the One who would save us ALL from our suffering! Did these shepherds return from seeing Jesus to new and improved lives, better jobs, more friends, and/or religious status? Likely not. But we learn in Luke 2:20 that they returned “glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen...”.

This Advent season, as we find ourselves frustrated with the commercialism of Christmas, spending a little too much time with family members, coworkers, or others who may not realize or may have forgotten they need a Savior, or thinking things can’t or won’t get any better for us or for others, let’s remember: the same Jesus who revealed himself to those lowly shepherds over 2,000 years ago will return in all his glory to restore God’s perfect kingdom. Praise God! 

Prayer

Heavenly Father,
We thank you for this time of Advent. We acknowledge that—as we’re immersed in the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations—we often hurry right through the Advent season, making Christmastime more about the giving of gifts and time spent with family than about acknowledging the importance of your son’s birth. We thank you for revealing yourself to even the lowliest of us and to those of us who may not know, or sometimes forget, that we need a Savior. Help us to live more like your son as we wait for his glorious return.

In Your Son’s Name,

Amen.

Posted by Jenni Nolan with

Tuesday, Dec 5 | He is with us

Editor's Note

About the author:
 Linda and her husband John are 20-year members of ZPC. They have 2 adult sons and a daughter in college. Linda serves on the ZPC Mission Commission as the communications liaison. 

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of waiting, mystery, redemption, and incarnation. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.

Waiting | Luke 6:20-23

We live in an Amazon Prime, Buy Now world. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has perfected how to extract money from us faster, more instantaneously than ever. Bezos has tapped into a core attribute of the American people: We are an impatient lot.

In the words of the late American singer Tom Petty, “The waiting is the hardest part.” In fact, we can sometimes be like Veruca Salt in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” who whined to her Daddy, “I want it now!”

What's the point of waiting? What are we waiting for? What does it even mean to be blessed?

How do we stop this madness? What can we do to bring peace into our homes and our lives?

Advent gives us time to pause and ponder what matters. To reflect on Jesus’ birth and wait expectantly and joyfully for what is to come.

Sometimes we just may not be feeling it – we’re financially or emotionally drained; or we’re running on empty and hungering for something more. We may feel dejected or depressed, despite all the glittery lights and festive nights.

Yet Jesus is in the midst of it all. He is with us – Emmanuel.

In Luke 6:20-26 (The Message), Jesus reminds his followers what it means to be blessed:

You’re blessed when you’ve lost it all.
God’s kingdom is there for the finding.
You’re blessed when you’re ravenously hungry.
Then you’re ready for the Messianic meal.
You’re blessed when the tears flow freely.
Joy comes with the morning.

Advent ushers in Hope. We don’t have to wait for it. Jesus is here. Now. 

Prayer

Dear gracious and loving Lord, thank you for taking us as we are. Help us to slow down, savor our time with friends and family. If we’re struggling during this time of Advent, open our eyes to the blessings before us. You came into this world to give us hope, and we are grateful. May we willingly share that hope with others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Posted by Linda Jackson with

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