Advent Devotional: Week One - Thursday

Scripture Reading: Matthew 2:1-6

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

When the wise men showed up in Jerusalem inquiring where the Messiah was to be born, it got the whole place up in a tizzy. These were foreigners inquiring the whereabouts of the future King! How could foreigners know about the Messiah and the Jewish leaders not know? Everyone from King Herod to the religious leaders (chief priests and scribes) were greatly troubled. Herod quickly gathered the Jewish leadership together and asked them where the Messiah will be born. The Jewish leaders pulled out their scrolls and read from the prophet Micah (quoted above in Matt. 2:6). They read that the Messiah would be born in the little town of Bethlehem. The king and religious leaders knew the right answers, but were too concerned with the threat to their own power to understand why the fulfillment of God’s promises were good news for the whole world!

Have you ever had the experience of finding yourself on the defensive on your own turf? What about when someone new shows up in your classroom? Or how about when a new employee arrives at work? Or when someone moves into your neighborhood that seems to know everything? We can be very protective of what we perceive as our own insider standing and knowledge!

Why is that? What causes that? How can we overcome that temptation?

Prayer: Dear God, sometimes you speak to us from people that are strange and of no account. They seem to know more about us than we know of ourselves. Sometimes we also can look down on people who are not from places we value. Help us to love outsiders as we marvel in Jesus’ humble beginnings.

Advent Singing: O Little Town of Bethlehem

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie! Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by. Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light; the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above, while mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love. O morning stars, together proclaim the holy birth, and praises sing to God the King, and peace to all on earth.

How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given! So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven. No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin, where meek souls will receive him still the dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray. Cast out our sin and enter in; be born in us today. We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell; O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel.

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