Advent: Week 2

JOY

Contents:

  1. Extended Devotion for Adults and Youth
  2. Extended Devotion for Kids
  3. Family Activity
  4. Craft
  5. Social Media Hashtag Challenge

Extended Devotion Adult/Youth:

We love hearing good news, especially when we’re the first to know. There’s a big difference between getting a phone call from your best friend about their pregnancy, engagement, or new job and finding out about it on Facebook. We cherish being invited to participate in the lives of the people we love instead of simply being spectators.

Today, the ability to share exciting news with others is quick and easy. With one tweet, post, hashtag, or group text, we can communicate with the masses. But things were obviously very different in the time Jesus was born. When something important happened, such as the birth of a child, heralds often spread that news. Families welcoming new babies, if they had the means to do so, would hire someone to go throughout the community and announce their happy news. Mary and Joseph, of humble means, did not have the ability to do this. But God Himself provided a company of heavenly heralds to proclaim the birth of His one and only Son.

Imagine the scene: shepherds on the midnight watch, ears and eyes open for signs of danger, sheep bleating in the background. And then, out of nowhere, an angel of the Lord bursts onto the scene with the news of the Savior’s birth. It is amazing that God chose this group of men as the first to hear the good news. In the time of Jesus’ birth, people regarded shepherds as liars and thieves. Because they were nomadic, moving from place to place to graze their flocks, people didn’t readily trust them. Yet it was to men such as this that God announced the Messiah’s coming. He told them first! Not royalty, not the religious leaders of the day, but shepherds—lowly and insignificant. He invited them into His story and then mobilized them as the very first evangelists.

As soon as they heard news of Jesus’ birth, the shepherds felt compelled to act. They went with haste, leaving their flocks behind, to find Mary, Joseph and the Savior Child lying in a manger. And once they beheld the One through whom salvation would come, they spread the word of all that had taken place.

We are like these men—unlikely recipients of an unbelievable reality. Just as God called the shepherds to witness and testify to Christ’s birth, so we are called to herald the saving work of His death and resurrection. As believers, we have been invited into His story, sent out as heralds of both Jesus’ first coming and His second. As we consider the shepherds, let us respond as they did to this good news of great joy—with amazement, belief, and action.

Consider writing a letter to someone who was instrumental in your coming to faith. If you can send them that letter mail it out this week. If they have already passed away think about sending a letter to the persons family instead, recalling how God used them to change your heart and life to God.

Extended Devotion Kids:

After reading through the selected reading from the Jesus Storybook Bible, read this following additional commentary and go over the discussion questions in your Advent book.

As Mary and Joseph held their newborn Son during those late hours of the night, God began spreading the wonderful news of Jesus’ birth. And He began with an unusual group of people.

Kings, queens, and religious leaders were not the first people to hear about the birth of Jesus. Instead, God told the most unimportant of people His good news first. Back in those days, people looked down on shepherds and even hated them. Most people considered them criminals, thieves, and liars. Yet these were the first people to hear that the Rescuer had come. And the way they heard that good news was nothing short of amazing.

While the shepherds watched their sheep in a field outside of Bethlehem, an angel appeared. The Bible tells us that the shepherds were filled with great fear. This angel that appeared to them was no baby with wings and a harp sitting on a cloud, like some stories might describe. No, this angel was a warrior of the Lord. And he shone with the glory of God. The bright radiance of heaven itself interrupted the deep darkness of the night. It was as if God peeled back the curtain of heaven and gave the shepherds a small glimpse of Himself.

The angel told the shepherds not to be afraid. God did what He had promised—He sent Jesus to rescue God’s people from their sins. God was making peace between Himself and sinners through Jesus.

Upon telling the shepherds the good news of Jesus’ birth and how to find Him, the angel was joined by thousands of other angels who began singing about the greatness of God. That dark, quiet night sky was filled with a beautiful, blinding light and roaring song that left the shepherds forever changed. Once they had heard the news, the shepherds were desperate to go and find Jesus and see the marvelous thing that God had done.

So the shepherds abandoned their sheep and raced to Bethlehem. Once they saw baby Jesus there in the manger, they left the stable and began telling everyone they saw the good news that the Savior had come. God used this group of men—men everyone despised—to tell the world that Jesus had come. As Jesus would do throughout His life, God was coming to sinners to show them the way to salvation.

Family Activity:

Make some hot cocoa and go on a Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt. Make it a competition or just use it as a way to make the time a little more fun for the kids.

Craft:

This week, make handmade Christmas cards together as a family! Send them to neighbors, friends, and family, and include words or pictures that tell of the good news you’ve been learning about the coming of Jesus!

Send cards to people you know love and trust Jesus—your card will be a good reminder for them in this season! But also make sure to send at least one card to the home of people who do not love and trust Jesus. Just like God showed grace and love to sinners, share the good news of Jesus’ birth with someone who does not know God. Maybe that person will hear the good news and will believe in Jesus!

Social Media Hashtag Challenge:

Take a picture of either of the following and post it to social media to gain an entry into the raffle giveaway:

  • Picture of your family doing the devotion together this week.
  • Picture of your family making the Christmas cards to send out for the weeks craft activity.
  • Picture of your family out on a Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt walk.

Make sure to tag @ccnlb (whether it is a post on your feed or in your stories) and use #ccnlbadvent.

NOTE: If you have a private profile make sure that you send a screenshot of your post to @ccnlb so that you will be entered into the raffle.