Advent Devotional December 8: Written by Betty Sellers in 1989

Matthew 2:7-12

How many days ‘till Christmas? Too many for the eager children, but oh-so few for the hurrying shoppers. Music programs and pageants call for long hours of rehearsal; the cards must be mailed and travel schedules planned. Meanwhile, a new generation of cooks lovingly duplicates Grandmother’s cornbread dressing and treasured ornaments are unpacked with care. Anticipation and planning join hands with tradition and custom in a frenzy of activity. 

In the midst of such well-ordered celebration, it’s strange to think of the events of the first Christmas, when the bystanders were taken completely by surprise. The shepherds who heard the first, glorious Christmas concert didn’t have it on a calendar, hadn’t bought tickets, didn’t have festive new outfits for the occasion. 

The best – and worst – things in life often come without warning. Surprises, discoveries, opportunities, accidents may put well-laid plans on hold or open doors where only blank walls appeared before. 

The unexpected may be unwelcome during the Christmas season, when every day is crammed full. But there is no more important time for the good news of Jesus’ birth and the love that He personifies. Among the many gifts God gives us are the unexpected opportunities to share them. 

There will be bystanders this Christmas season, at school, in the office, or the neighborhood – people who ‘till now have seen only the tinsel, not the truth. As we hurry along, checking off lists and greeting old friends, we need to listen for the knock of opportunity… the questions of a seeking heart...and just possibly, an echo of the angels’ song. 

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