When it was time for his redemptive entry into the world, God had his faithful people ready everywhere, invited at that moment to receive the joyful news and participate with him in his incarnational mission. He invited a whole, multifaceted community along for the ride, choosing those with hearts who had been waiting for him, who were ready to say yes.
With each invitation, the Holy Spirit brought JOY. With Mary, Elizabeth, Zachariah, the shepherds, even unborn John in the womb - each time the Holy Spirit spoke, the response was joy. What amazing news they received, that God loves us, is with us, and saves us from our sins!
The shepherds received that joyful news in the darkness, and many of us can relate to that much of the time. Life is often dark and hard. As for the shepherds working the night shift, it's in the darkness - of our poverty, shame, dysfunction, stress, disordered priorities, fear, hopelessness - that God breaks through with light. When it's dark, these are the moments we are invited to listen up for the song of the Christmas angels, a song that comes with light, reassurance, joyful news, and peace. A song that instructs us with signs of God ("And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger." Lk 1:12). The dark moments are the ones in which we're invited to get quiet, to be present to God with all of what we're feeling, and to be attentive to what the Holy Spirit has to say to us. He has your good at heart. He will restore your joy in due time, because that's what he does.
"...I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people... a savior has been born for you..." (Luke 1:10,11)
The shepherds received the good news in the midst of their dark night, and they responded by going "in haste" to find God incarnate, using the sign given by the angels. Mary responded to their visit (and all the joyful messages she and her community were receiving from God) by reflecting in her heart, allowing that shimmering love-light to reflect and bounce around in her soul.
In the darkest of nights, we are invited to respond in the same way as the shepherds and as Mary - be present to what God is doing, follow the signs he sends, and spend time in reflection. The Holy Spirit will always lead us through the darkness back to joy. This is the Spirit-breathed message of Christmas.
Taking time to mindfully meditate on Luke 1:26-2:38, entering into the narrative with your full focus and imagination, can create an opening to receive these joyful gifts of God through Scripture - a practice with benefit not just at Christmas but all year long!
Glory to God in the highest
I am Irene Kraegel. I am licensed as a clinical psychologist and teach mindfulness on a faith-based university campus. I practice mindfulness because it opens me up to God (a.k.a. brings joy). I am writing here in hopes of sharing some of my experiences and thoughts related to the practice of mindfulness in the life of a Christian. Thanks for reading!
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