Great Plains Daily Devotional for 12/25/2020

Today please be in prayer for

Lincoln St Mark's UMC
Blue River District
Lincoln St Mark's UMC
Blue River District
Lincoln Trinity UMC
Blue River District
Malcolm UMC
Blue River District

Today's Lectionary Text

Luke 2:1-20

In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria. Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled. Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea. He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby. She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.

Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night. The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were terrified.

The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.”

When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go right now to Bethlehem and see what’s happened. Let’s confirm what the Lord has revealed to us.” They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw this, they reported what they had been told about this child. Everyone who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds told them. Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. The shepherds returned home, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Everything happened just as they had been told.

Today's Devotional

Christmas is a time for stories. And my mom always made sure we got our fill of Christmas stories. She planned our evenings around such television shows as “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” and “Frosty the Snowman.”

But the biggest story-telling tradition came on Christmas Eve. In between going to church and opening some presents, we gathered around the television to watch one of the versions of the Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol.” The story of Ebeneezer Scrooge’s redemption from greedy miser to someone who grasps the concept of loving their neighbor became my favorite holiday TV movie or program, and I’ve kept that tradition alive of watching Scrooge meet the three ghosts of Christmas, usually with a late viewing after attending Christmas Eve worship. As I watch, I think of my mom and how important that time together was for all of us.

So when the Great Plains Conference set out to develop some new resources for churches in this era of online-only worship during a pandemic, I readily agreed to try to add to those stories I cherished so much as a kid. This time, I wanted to take the story of Jesus’ birth from the gospels and tell this most amazing tale of love, grace, mercy and, ultimately, salvation. It appears on our website as a 35-minute family story video with images, music and the beginning of the most wonderful story ever told — the story of Jesus. I invite you to watch the video story and remember why we have stories about Scrooge and others in the first place. They don’t exist at this wonderful time of year if Jesus had not been born in those humble circumstances about 2,000 years ago. So. because of Jesus’ amazing story, we get many other stories that bring us joy.

Sadly, my mother passed away unexpectedly last weekend, the Saturday before Christmas. She knew I was working on a story about the birth of Jesus, but she never got to see it.

Despite that, I will forever cherish those memories of her ensuring we were reminded each holiday season about the stories of peace, love and mercy. I hope this telling of the story of Jesus’ birth adds to your Christmas cheer.
View or download the video.
   — Todd Seifert, director of communications

Prayer for Reflection

Gracious God, we thank you for Jesus. We thank you for announcing your arrival as the hope for all humankind. Help us to spread your light throughout the world. Amen.


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