More extraordinary

Luke 2:20

My Jesus Journey – Luke 2:8-20, Shepherds visit Jesus

They weren’t expecting it. The shepherds were on guard, anticipating a threat from outside their ring of protection. Instead, an angel appears among them, right in the middle of all the lambs being raised for sacrifice, and makes the birth announcement of the Savior of the World. The shepherds and their sheep were enveloped in the radiance of God’s glory.

God’s announcement included a practical clue: they could recognize the Messiah because he would be lying in a manger in Bethlehem, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth. God wanted them to find His Son. He wanted them to see for themselves. This wasn’t solely a proclamation; it was an invitation.

To accentuate the point, the armies of heaven descend and praise God in their presence, giving glory to the King of Kings and promising peace on earth to whom God favors.

Though the sky grew dark when the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds hearts were ablaze. They wasted no time and ran to Bethlehem to see with their own eyes what the angel had told them. God had come to them, so they went to God.

When they arrived, they found the baby, lying in the manger. What was more extraordinary — angels in the fields or a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes? One seemed supernatural, a scene few would ever witness as the multitude of heavenly host cried out in praise to the Almighty God. The other was almost common in comparison: a newborn baby, with poor parents doing the best they knew how.

Yet, in that manger lay the greatest gift and display of power the world would and will ever experience.

The shepherds began their evening surrounded by glory and praise, and ended it with giving God glory and praise.

They would never be the same. They had seen the Christ.

New year, New life

Last night I rang in the New Year driving home from the hospital, where I had spent most of the day supporting good friends as they welcomed a son into the world.

Life is such a miracle, and to hold and snuggle a precious newborn baby is to know the tenderness and loving-kindness of the God who created him.

What a way to begin a new year, witnessing new life!

New life in the new year!

New life in the new year!

As I kept the new mom company and watched as she talked with and loved on her sweet child, my mind was drawn to the Scripture passage found in John 3.

Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

“But how can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked Him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?”

Jesus answered, “I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit…”

January 1 brings hope each year, for us to be able to leave the past behind and have a fresh start. We crave that innocence and purity we have lost. Just like a newborn baby, we seek to be cradled securely in loving arms. We look within ourselves, to our relationships and from our livelihood to find the satisfaction and purpose we so deeply desire. And, every year we watch the Times Square ball tumble down, just like all of our independent efforts, and wish this next year would be different.

We have the same questions Nicodemus had.

And, Jesus has the same answer: we must be born again, born of God’s Spirit, and become His son or daughter. We need to be made completely new, just like a newborn baby.

Whatever you are facing in 2013, no matter the obstacles already looming and the mistakes you may be running from, new life is only possible through Jesus Christ.

Your eternal life with God can begin today. Jesus reminds Nicodemus in the same conversation that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. In the same fashion, those of us who have received that wonderfully precious gift need to fully possess it. We must live in God’s power, receive His forgiveness, extend His mercy and proclaim the Good News.

This is how I want to spend the new year.