Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC
Saturday, December 24, Evening
By Jenny Cross, Director of Youth Ministry
Good News and Great Joy
Read: Luke 2:8-11 ESV
“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 all 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.”
Each year, our youth attend a retreat called SLA (Spiritual Life Advance). Typically, it takes place in the fall and is full of flannels, changing leaves, and campfires. Last year, it had to be scheduled a little later than usual, so we traveled to the Smoky Mountains the first weekend of December. It was quickly dubbed “Christmas SLA,” and our students embraced it, trading flannels for Christmas pajamas and decorating a tree in our worship space.
SLA is always one of my favorite weekends of the year. It’s a time for spiritual renewal and abundant joy — a time where the space between heaven and earth thins for a bit, and we glimpse the promise of glory to come. Last year, as we meditated on Advent and spent time preparing the way for Jesus, I was overcome with the goodness of God over and over again.
We have a tradition at SLA on Saturday night. After our session and small group time, students bundle up in their warmest clothes and spread out around the camp for a time of silent prayer and reflection. When they feel ready, they walk quietly to a campfire where we pray and worship together, with music lead by our youth band. It is one of the sweetest moments of my year. Last year, we gathered under the stars on a clear winter night and read Luke 2 in a field, like shepherds. We looked out at creation and around at each other and felt the weight of what that passage meant in a new and different way. The angels came to share the good news on a night a lot like that, halfway around the world and a couple of millennia ago. But because of Jesus, the words still matter. They are worth remembering. I’m not sure I’ll ever read that familiar Luke passage the same way. Like the shepherds, I was changed in a field in the bleak midwinter.
Glory to God in the highest.
Holy God, In this time of Advent, make us aware of your Presence. Help us to see your goodness and mercy in our ordinary days. Make us like shepherds, who go to look for the Christ-child. Help us to prepare the way of the Lord in our hearts and our lives. Amen.