Today’s Devotional is offered by Chris Aho.
Praise to the Lord, who will prosper your work and defend thee;
surely his goodness and mercy shall daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
if with his love he befriends thee.
– Verse 4, “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”
It’s Christmas! It’s the high point of the most wonderful time of the year, and I hope this is a wonderful day for you and yours.
When I think of my Christmas traditions, they are quite varied.
We have celebrated Christmas alone, with our parents, with grandparents, and even with our whole family.
We have shared a full spread with cranberries, stuffing and roast beast, and we have feasted on cheeseburgers on the road at Waffle House.
Christmas has happened on the road, in the airport, and at home.
All of this is to say, our Christmas traditions are varied, and that is fine because, no matter where we are, Christmas day just feels different. It feels different than every other day, and that is good because, amid the difference of that day, I always manage to find a moment of peace away from the celebration and the chaos.
Most years, I reflect on how quickly the season came and went. Some years, I thought about the gifts I got or didn’t get. And certainly, during a few years, I was spiritual enough to think about the true celebration of the day. I hope you can pause and reflect today and no matter where your mind and heart wanders, I hope might ponder anew because, if ever there were a day to be a human ‘being’ rather than a human ‘doing,’ Christmas is that day.
As you ponder, you might consider the unique way God changed the world on this day. Isn’t it interesting that the life of Jesus started small? This birth that changed the world happened off the radar, almost unnoticed, on the edge of town. Jesus’s birth was not in the middle of the temple, the castle, or the capital. Mary gave birth in a stable. This world-changing miracle started small.
This news spread to the lowly shepherds first.
The Gifts of the Magi show up later.
Jesus gathers disciples after he is grown.
He performs great miracles later.
His meaningful teachings are a long way away.
And his most important teachings first happen, not in the pulpit of the cathedral, but among the regular people.
In every way, the birth of Jesus mirrors the work of God in our lives. It starts small and grows. We cannot teleport into a deep relationship with God. We grow in our faith slowly. Over time. With little investments and moments each day.
So today, take a moment. Steal a quiet few minutes. Sneak away from the chaos to breathe and ponder anew. Sense that God is at work, God is with you, and the towering strength we will someday need might begin with a seed that is planted in a few minutes today.
We sing, “Ponder Anew, what the Almighty can do,” because in his love, we have been befriended.
This is the message of Christmas. And thanks be to God that we can start small, just like that baby in the manger.
**The Photo was taken in the Stanford University Memorial Church, Palo Alto, California. You should visit there sometime.