The Visited Planet – December 30

Advent Guide Cover - 2017

If you have never had an opportunity to read Philip Yancey, today’s essay should inspire you to seek out more of his books. His writing combines historical insight, pastoral warmth, and deep-seated faith to help you understand God’s works for us and love him more fully. From Christmas cards and abortion to unstable dictators and cosmic battles, today’s reading will grip your imagination and encourage you to think more deeply about Christ’s visit to our planet.

READ

  • Revelation 12:1-6
  • Watch for the Light, 251-266

REFLECT

  1. Yancey points out that though our Christmas cards all feature peaceful, serene depictions of the Nativity, the gospels present a stark and complex story that troubled many. Do you find yourself tending to think of Christmas, and maybe Jesus himself, as a one-dimensional story that only leads to peace, simplicity, and goodwill for all? Why do you think we often overlook the parts of the gospel story that emphasize Mary’s fear, Simeon’s grim prophecy, or Herod’s murderous plotting?
  2. Have you ever considered that Joseph taking Mary along to Bethlehem may have been a protective act to shield her from the shaming response of neighbors in her small town (255)? How does this possibility affect the way you think of Joseph and his role in the Christmas story?
  3. Yancey writes, “Often a work of God comes with two edges, great joy and great pain… (256). When was a time in your life that you experienced both joy and pain as a result of your choice to obey or honor God? Is there anything God has been asking you to do in obedience to his leading that you have been slow to obey because you see the pain that will come?
  4. What was your first response to reading of Revelation 12 as a re-telling of the Christmas story from the perspective of heaven (see pages 262-266)? Have you heard of this before? How does hearing of this help you understand more completely what Jesus was doing by stepping out of heaven to visit “this fifth-rate little ball”?

RESPOND

Today praise God for his wisdom to send Jesus at a time and in a way that his vulnerable young life would be preserved even as He was born into poverty and humility. Next, praise God for his powerful victory, sending his Son to earth to rescue his people from the evil one. Finally, praise God for whatever else has caught your attention in this story. May we never run out of awe as we thoughtfully consider all that God has done to save us and show us his love!

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