Homeland: A Christmas Series

Homeland Part 1

When I was young in the mountains, I never wanted to go to the ocean, and I never wanted to go to the desert. I never wanted to go anywhere else in the world, for I was in the mountains. And that was always enough. (Cynthia Rylant, When I Was Young in the Mountains)

I have spoken to several men and women whom desire to live in a different place than where they are. Admittedly, several times in a given week or month, I am one of them. I often love the place I live and other moments I desire a grand adventure far, far away. This phenomena has prompted me to contemplate whether this is a perspective shared by historical accounts of men and women documented in the Bible. So far my search has turned up empty.

I believe the desire for novelty and adventure are good, and God-given, but I also wrestle with the reality that it can be a sign of ingratitude, discontent, and a blinding of my eyes to the mission God has given in the present, to the gifts of here and now. This Christmas God has guided my thoughts on the matter to the account of the shepherds and the wise men.

There are two groups of men that were called to worship and witness the Christ-child: the shepherds and the wise men. The shepherds traveled walking distance to witness the new born King of Kings. These men, by vocation, were homebodies often sleeping among the sheep they guarded and never going far from their flock.

And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.  (Luke 2:17-18, ESV)

Conversely, the wise men traveled up to two years to witness the Messiah. Their journey started when they saw the star rise and set out to worship him.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.  And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasure, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:10-11, ESV)

In considering the missions of both these two vastly different groups of men, a few similarities stand out:

  • Their mission was to find the Christ and worship Him.
  • They were given a sign to know that they had found the Messiah.
  • They obeyed their assignment.
  • Their response was worship and joy.

Whether shepherd or wise man, pauper or prince, native or foreigner, those that are in Christ Jesus are each traveling to the same homeland. They are each integral parts to the story of the world, redemption, and the promised restoration of God’s creation. We each work in our areas of influence so that it too can be said of us as the cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 11:

For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:14-16, ESV, emphasis mine)

Shepherds heeded the heralding angels and the wise men followed the star; we are all called to follow the King. Each of us as part of the story should look to our homeland and work toward that same end. Let us find something in our surroundings today to be grateful for and to recognize the hand of God in our adventures near or far.

Have you encountered any men or women in the Bible who desired a grand adventure away from the place they were living? I would love to hear your answers if so. You can leave a comment below or e-mail me at Brooke.Cooney.1@gmail.com.

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Of Grace and Peace

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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:2)

Paul’s letters begin with these words: grace and peace. Each time they are accompanied by, ” from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” In his letters to Timothy, Paul also adds mercy.

Jesus mercifully came to pour out His grace so that the Holy Spirit might forever reign in believers hearts giving them peace.

That I would carry a greeting of grace and peace to my brothers and sisters in word, heart, and spirit. That takes the infiltrating mercy I receive from God to turn and pour out mercy upon mercy. Giving mercy just as I have been freely given mercy.

How often is my soul in a state of unrest? Worry, sin, and striving can lead to this state, but abiding in Christ Jesus and growing in love and knowledge of Him ushers forth His grace and peace in my spirit and yours.

When the angels told of the birth of Christ, they ushered in their tidings with,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased. ” Luke 2:14 (emphasis mine)

In the form of a warm and fleshy baby boy, peace and joy were birthed to earth so that striving and death could be ceased.

I long to behold the baby boy of Bethlehem whose birth we celebrate over two thousand years later. To be one of the lowly shepherds to coddle, kiss, and worship his tiny fingers and toes. To bask in the earthen glow of a heavenly Savior is to know Love.

Our King.

I must recognize my thirst for my Savior and His Word beckoning to me, “Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The shepherds momentarily laid down their duties to partake of His grace and joy. I should do the same.

How did the lowly shepherds spend the rest of their earthly days?

What joy did they take forth into their mundane tasks?

Was that moment in a stable enough to sustain them till heaven or did they ask God for more? How many of them lived the thirty-three years more to receive the eternal anointing of the Holy Spirit?

Indeed the baby boy of heaven changed everything.

This Thanksgiving which ushers in the Christmas season, might we remember to receive His grace and peace in all things as we worship the new-born King of Kings turn Risen Savior? Might we pause from tasks, turn from distractions, and then bow our heads in meditation and wonder at the gift of Christ our Savior?

Grace and peace to you in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ this Christmas season and every one thereafter.

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