Advent Devotional: Friday, December 14

Scripture: Luke 2:10-11 RSV
Be not afraid: for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all people. For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Devotional Thought:
Unopened gifts. Are they still gifts? I think so. But an unopened gift is never experienced fully by either the giver or the receiver. Imagine giving a gift that never gets unwrapped. The giver is shortchanged of the joy of giving a gift that makes a difference. And the receiver never realizes the impact of the gift and the fullness of love of the giver.

Joy is one such gift that can go unopened. As we have seen over the last few weeks, joy is a sense of well-being caused by God’s presence. It is a fruit of the spirit and a result of grace that propels further into our life’s journey. But…only if it is received and unwrapped. The beginning of receiving this gift is to commit to following Jesus. This is the point of entry for every Christian. But this is not a moment in time but a lifetime of moments as we day-by-day commit to continue to follow. This commitment to follow is an act of unwrapping God’s gifts in our life. We commit to love God and our neighbors as ourselves. We commit to forgive as we’ve been forgiven. We commit to share with others the good and generous gifts we’ve been given.

And all of this is possible because of God’s good gift of Jesus sent to us as a baby in a manger surrounded by young parents, shepherds and barn animals. That is the sight of what joy looks like. Even the passage above says that joy is a baby in a manger not a feeling or circumstance in our life. And that is why we celebrate and give thanks during the season we call Christmas.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thank you for your gift of joy. You, Lord Jesus, gave up your home in heaven and moved into our neighborhood to show us what is possible in this life and to break the chains of sin and death. Giver of all good gifts, soften our hearts so we may receive from you what we cannot do for ourselves.