And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (Luke 2: 20) Heavenly Father, life just on the other side of Christmas day feels quite different to different people. For some of us, this was the “greatest” Christmas ever in terms of healthy, caring relationships; incredible “eats”; thoughtful gifts, both given and received; and above all, fresh gratitude for the indescribable gift of your Son, Jesus. For others of us, it was a really difficult day of palpable tensions, dashed hopes, brokenness abounding. For still others, it was the first Christmas with an empty chair where a loved one used to sit, or a day spent all by ourselves in excruciating loneliness. Father, my prayer today is for all of us, no matter what yesterday was like. For even our best days are in need of the gospel, and none of our worst days are beyond the reach of the gospel. When the shepherds left Jesus’ manger, they were still shepherds. They still couldn’t worship at the temple; they still couldn’t give testimony in a court of law; they still were stereotyped as thieves by many in their community. And we shouldn’t romanticize what Joseph and Mary did the day after Jesus was born, as though all of a sudden a five-star inn in Bethlehem did open up, as though Mary’s body would have been spared all the normal chaos and pain of birthing and afterbirth, and as though angels would’ve started showing up as round-the-clock nurses. Father, thank you that we’re Christians, not Gnostics. We don’t have to pretend about anything. Christmas isn’t a season in which we’re supposed to be transported into a superspirituality, rising above reality. The gospel isn’t about denial but is about learning to delight in you, no matter what is going on. We praise you that Jesus came into a real world where everything is broken, but he did come to make all things new, starting with us. Please give each of us the special and the common grace you gave the shepherds. Let us hear and let us see more of Jesus, even if we remain “shepherds” the rest of our lives. Enable us to glorify and praise you, Father, for you are not a man, that you would lie about anything. Everything you have told us in your Word will come to pass. This is good news for shepherds and kings alike. I pray in Jesus’ faithful name. Amen.
Smith, Scotty (2011-09-01). Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith (p. 375). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.