Today's Scripture: Luke 2:1-20 (read)
The angel's announcement of the Savior's birth to the shepherds on that holy night so long ago was marvelous. They were given a sign that they would find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a lowly manger.
For years, people had waited and anticipated the arrival of their Messiah. How would he arrive? In what way would God send his son to enter the world? Would it be with an entrance worthy of the King? Would it be with splendor and royalty? I doubt that many would have anticipated the arrival of such a great gift by way of a simple stable in the middle of a dark night. So many missed the coming of the Messiah simply because they were not anticipating his entrance in such a common manner, in such a lowly way. How incredible that God chooses to use the ordinary and the common - what wonderful news for us! This means he takes our meager gifts and endeavors and uses them to accomplish his divine plan. He uses us - his children - to fulfill kingdom work here on earth. He sanctifies the common and the ordinary for his use.
Advent is a time to anticipate and to prepare ourselves for Christ's birth anew. In this season that celebrates the "coming" of Christ, the Savior is waiting to do a work in your heart and to use your gifts and talents to be a blessing to others. As Henry Van Dyke, an American writer and pastor, once wrote, "Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and the desires of little children; to remember the weakness and loneliness of people who are growing old; to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear on their hearts?"
Christmas comes to offer its wonderful message. Emmanuel. God with us.
Keith Ross is senior vice president for institutional advancement at Missouri Baptist University.
This 2011 Advent devotion originally appeared in the November 17 issue of Word&Way.