December 6: Community Joy!
December 6, 2015
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
by Josh Moody Each year our family has a tradition of opening one Advent Bible reading starting on December 1 and finishing on Christmas Day, December 25. This year I am sharing those Bible readings with some thoughts based on them for use as a devotional during this season. Luke 1:56:
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.A short reading today! But I love these little human touches that Luke gives us in the midst of his grand narrative. We have just heard the Magnificat. We have had the announcement of the birth of John the Baptist, and of the Christ. We have gloried in the highest heights, and now Luke gives us some domestic details and relational insights. Why? Luke loves to assure us that that of which he writes is true. He says at the beginning of the Gospel:
Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught (Luke 1:1-4).In other words, Luke is writing to assure his readers that what they had heard about the Christ is actually, truly, historically credible. Those things truly happened. And he gathers his sources, and tells the old story, with a special lens on its verification as factually accurate. So he includes these details, these facts, these elements that give the “ring of truth” as J.B. Phillips famously put it. But it also tells of the human scale of this moment. Here was this young woman, barely more than a girl, who had received this thunderous news. What does she do? She stays with Elizabeth to get settled. To talk over the things they had heard. To share together. Christmas is a factual story. The message of Christmas is a historically verifiable and accurate narrative of the events. It is not subject to the experimental science of a laboratory, but it is subject to the experimental science of the history books. It happened, Luke tells us. But not only did it happen, there were real people involved. People like you and me who had needs, and desires, and hopes and dreams. What we find here with this little line about the relationship between Elizabeth and Mary is an emphasis of the truth of the story, and an inkling of the relational interweaving of the burgeoning Christian community. Do you have friends? Do you know people in the church? Do you let others know you? Do you share the joys (and the trials) of life with some other confidant? Who is there who you can call upon in your hour of need, or share with in your hour of elation? Perhaps this Christmas it is time to pray that God would help you join in a discipleship relationship with another fellow traveler down the Christian road, connect with a Bible study, and become involved in a church. If Mary needed time with Elizabeth, you will need time with some other disciple, too.
O church, arise and put your armor on; Hear the call of Christ your captain; For now the weak can say they are strong In the strength that God has given. With shield of faith and belt of truth We’ll stand against the devil’s lies; An army bold whose battle cry is “love!” Reaching out to those in darkness.
(“O Church Arise” Words and Music by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend Copyright 2005 Thankyou Music)]]>
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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