Advent Calendar: December 15

December 15
Light the third candle (pink; the Shepherd’s Candle), which represents joy.

Read: Psalm 92, Luke 2:8–20
Thoughts for Parents:

This week we will be focusing in on joy, the joy of the Psalmist as he considers God’s work and the joy of the shepherds at the news that they had been privy to see the One who would be the Messiah.

Surely these shepherds were men who had heard from their youth about the promised One to come. Perhaps they still believed it—perhaps not. Perhaps they were like most of us, believing-sort-of, when they thought of it, when they remembered. Sure, they had recited Psalm 92 on the Sabbath, they knew it was good “to give thanks to the Lord,” to sing praises to His name in the morning and at night. Sure, they were thankful for God’s creation, and yes, there had been times when they watched the lambs or looked out on a night sky glutted with stars and a song of joy sprang from their hearts. But, let’s face it: life as a shepherd wasn’t easy, and the nights were cold and dark, the wolves were dangerous, thieves were cunning, the sheep were stupid, and the ground was hard. Then God changed everything. The light of the stars was eclipsed by the glory of the Lord. An angel spoke to them: Don’t be afraid! Good news! Great joy was being proclaimed—joy even for lowly shepherds!

What was this good news? Where would this great joy come from? Had Herod finally been deposed? Had the Romans packed it in at last? Was a mighty conqueror finally taking note of their plight? Well, yes and no. Yes a new King who would deliver them from their enemies had come, but not quite in the way they might have expected. What was the sign of this new kingdom, this great good news? Look for an infant wrapped in rags lying in a feeding trough in a barn.

Wait … what? A baby? Born in a barn? Uncouthness, coarseness, rudeness exemplified. Weakness incarnate. Poverty and want wrapped up in rags. Why? Why had God done this? So that we could rejoice in our salvation. This infant still damp from the womb He had gestated in is the Savior—the Savior of the uncouth, coarse, rude and poor. He’s the Savior of sinners who are too lazy or absent-minded to close a door. Rejoice.
Thoughts for children:

This whole week we are going to be talking about joy. Joy is what you feel on Christmas morning when you get to open your presents. The joy that we are going to talk about doesn’t end. We wake up with joy on Christmas morning because we are looking forward to what we might get, but sometimes we don’t get exactly what we asked for or our toys break and then our joy ends. The great thing about the joy we are going to talk about all week is it never ends, because our joy is Jesus.

Can you imagine the joy that the shepherds must have felt when they saw all those angels? Think of it, pretend like you were one of those shepherds, there you are minding your own business, sleeping, maybe even having a good dream, and then, “BAM!” All of sudden, the sky is filled with angels and they are all singing a song that makes you so happy! You know why the song they sang made them happy? Because it promised that God would be at peace with all those who love Him. Peace with God means we are His friends, we are in His family, and He loves us. That should make you happy, too! The angels told the shepherds that Jesus was being born. That is the how we have peace with God. Jesus made it so we could have a relationship with God. That is the good news that should always bring a smile to your face.