2019 Advent Devotional – Day 17


Matthew 2:5-6 – The chief priests told Herod where Jesus was to be born

They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”

Salvation - Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario

The simplicity of the location of Jesus’ birth (as foretold in Micah 5:2) contrasted starkly with the opulence of the palace where Herod resided: an agricultural village compared to a grand city; an insignificant rural community in contrast to the centre of power. The comparison can be extended to the two rulers also. Herod, brutal, scheming and manipulative, focused on power at all costs; and Jesus, depicted as a lowly shepherd, sacrificing everything to tend and look after God’s people. 

From the outset, then, God’s love is going to turn our human world and expectations upside down. God’s promised “ruler” will not govern through force and fear, bending his people to his will. 

Rather this ruler will watch over God’s people, to care for them and shelter them from harm. It will not be the most privileged, or the most highly regarded who will lead God’s people but, outwardly, the least. 

We are called therefore to watch out for God’s unexpected presence in our world. Where are we ignoring ‘the least’ because society values only ‘the most’? How can we realign our assumptions with God’s surprising love?

Surprising God,
Remind me today that your way is not the world’s way and your values are not those the world holds dear. Inspire me instead with the promise that you hold me dear. When others brag about the biggest and best, reassure me that you also cherish the smallest and least. Help me notice those in the world who are overlooked and neglected, and encourage me to share your love with them and all your children. Amen.

Thank you for joining us on this prayerful path through Advent.
Blessings and best wishes for 2020.

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