Christmas Light
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Lesson Two • Noticing the Light
Pastor Ryan Story

The time and money some people put into Christmas decorations are mind-boggling.

1. By now, how many of us can honestly say we no longer are awestruck by the Christmas decorations? Why does this happen?

 

Years ago, my brother lived in Poughkeepsie, New York. It was less than an hour by train ride into the heart of New York City. For about three years I would frequently drive to visit my brother every few months and we would spend the day in the city. I was always awestruck visiting the city and seeing new sights. I became pretty familiar with the city, but by no means I would say I was a “New Yorker,” though I could navigate the city pretty well. In 2010, I had an opportunity to go to New York for a Young Adults mission trip. After our first day of work, we had the evenings to go sightseeing, and a small group of us wanted to go to Times Square. I was comfortable enough to lead through the subway and get us to our destination. After zig-zagging blocks that I knew to get us there, we finally walked into the heart of Times Square. I turned back and everyone was in awe at everything that Times Square had to offer at night. The light is so massive in Times Square at night one could hardly notice that the sun was in fact down. At that moment, I learned a very important lesson. I was the only one who was not awestruck by the lights. Sadly, I learned that night that familiarity can decrease awe. 

2. How can familiarity decrease awe in terms of our relationship with Jesus?

 

John 1:9-13 says, “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

3. How is it that “his own people did not receive him?”

4. How do we receive Him? What do we become when we receive Him?

5. Have you ever gotten to a place in your walk with Jesus where your relationship with Jesus has become too familiar and you have lost your awe factor in your light application? 

 

To ensure we are still keeping this study of Christmas familiar, we are going to jump to the Gospel of Matthew. While John and Matthew were recounting the same truth about Jesus, they had some different truths they wanted to share about Christ. While both were inspired by the Holy Spirit, John does not talk much about Jesus’ “physical” birth; however, Matthew does. 

In Matthew 2:1-2, we read, “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’”

6. Outside of Mary and Joseph, according to Matthew, who are the first to come to visit Jesus? Where did they come from and why is this significant?

7. What was the initial signal for the wise men that indicated the King of the Jews was born? Is it possible we call this a Christmas light?

Matthew 2:3-8 continues, “When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.” Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.’”

8. If the Jews were the ones with the Torah and the writings from the Prophets, how is it they missed the birth of Jesus?

John 1:9-13 records, The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

9. What is needed to receive the true light?

 

One of the scariest misses I can think of is being in a place where we stop noticing the light that only comes from Jesus. Even during this holiday season, we can get wrapped up in the grandeur we miss out on seeing the true beauty of the season. Like a guy walking into Times Square, I pray this Christmas season is filled with awe.

10. How can we keep the awe for Jesus during this Christmas season?

Noticing the Light • Devotion #1: “I Wonder As I Wander”
Dr. Randy T. Johnson

“I Wonder As I Wander” is written by folklorist John Jacob Niles. I love how he got the idea for the song. In “Notes for an Unfinished Autobiography,” Niles wrote:

“‘I Wonder As I Wander’ grew out of three lines of music sung for me by a girl who called herself Annie Morgan. The place was Murphy, North Carolina, and the time was July 1933. The Morgan family, revivalists all, were about to be ejected by the police, after having camped in the town square for some little time, cooking, washing, hanging their wash from the Confederate monument and generally conducting themselves in such a way as to be classed a public nuisance. Preacher Morgan and his wife pled poverty; they had to hold one more meeting in order to buy enough gas to get out of town. It was then that Annie Morgan came out—a tousled, unwashed blond, and very lovely. She sang the first three lines of the verse of “I Wonder As I Wander.” At twenty-five cents a performance, I tried to get her to sing all the song. After eight tries, all of which are carefully recorded in my notes, I had only three lines of verse, a garbled fragment of melodic material—and a magnificent idea.”

Please try to envision this little girl going about her chores, oblivious to those around, as she sings this little song.

I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus, the Saviour, did come for to die.
For poor, ornery people like you and like I
I wonder as I wander
Out under the sky.

When Mary birthed Jesus, ‘twas in a cows’ stall,
With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all.
But high from God’s heaven a star’s light did fall,
And the promise of ages
It did then recall.

If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing:
A star in the sky, or a bird on the wing;
Or all of God’s angels in heaven to sing,
He surely could have had it,
‘Cause He was the King!

I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus, the Saviour, did come for to die.
For poor, ornery people like you and like I
I wonder as I wander
Out under the sky.

This Christmas season please wonder as you wander about Jesus coming to die for us. He died for ornery people like us. His birthplace was nothing fancy which I am sure Annie Morgan could relate. As King, He could have asked for anything, but He kept it simple and the angels came to sing. Jesus came to be our Savior. He was born to die – for us.

As you are tempted to get caught up in the hustle and bustle, think about what you are thinking about – wonder while you wander.



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