Good News - Week 3

Jesus is For All

Week of December 12, 2021

Openers & Ice Breakers:
Early in the 20th century, churches across the world followed a specific Advent pattern with each week focusing on a different theme.  Those themes were hope, love, joy, and peace, in that order.  Over time, this pattern changed as more aspects of the Advent season were explored.  However the third week was, and still is, almost always referred to as "Gaudete Sunday" or "Joy Sunday".  The origin of the name is taken from the Latin translation of Philippians 4:4 - Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete.

"Rejoice in the Lord Always, Again I say Rejoice"

As we study our bible passage this week, let us do so with a joyful heart. Among the first to receive good news that Jesus was born were shepherds.  They were an unexpected group of people.  Yet, they were chosen for a purpose.  Imagine the scene. Imagine that dark field.  Imagine standing watch over the flock. Suddenly, a multitude of angels appears.  That dark night sky surrenders to brilliant lights.   Singing voices praise a newborn savior and the sound echoes across the land!  Such an epic experience for these specific people and forever remembered in the story of the birth of Christ.

Who were these shepherds?  Who were these unexpected people? They were chosen for a purpose, just like you and me!  "Rejoice in the Lord, always!  Again, I say Rejoice!"

Luke 2:8-20 (CEB)

8 Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night.9 The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were terrified.

10 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. 11 Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. 12 This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, 14 “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.”

15 When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go right now to Bethlehem and see what’s happened. Let’s confirm what the Lord has revealed to us.” 16 They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they reported what they had been told about this child. 18 Everyone who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. 20 The shepherds returned home, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Everything happened just as they had been told.

Application Questions:
The Christmas story is full of examples of how the Good News of Jesus is for all people. Many of the unlikely characters would have normally been left out of the religious activities of the time. What was true then is true today. Jesus came for all people – us and those around us. Once we receive this good news, God calls us to share it with others.

  • We are often matched up with “unexpected” or “unlikely” people, at work, church, even family at times— reflect on a time that someone unlikely has impacted your life in a positive way.
  • How can you impact people in our community who may have traditionally been left out of religious activities?
  • In the passage we see the story shift from a terrifying situation in verse 9 to the good news of Jesus' birth. Discuss what it must have been like for the Shepard’s, their trust, fear, commitment, etc.

Heavenly Father, so often during this season we find ourselves frazzled, frustrated, and exhausted. We ask that in the week ahead, you would open our eyes to the opportunities for joy each day. Prompt us to notice all the unlikely people and places that reflect your glory and the true Good News of this season– a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger, and he is Christ the Lord!

Taking it Further:
For some, Handel’s Messiah brings back memories of holidays past, most often the portion that is sung at Easter, “The Hallelujah Chorus.” Here is an excerpt about Christmas drawing from this week’s passage:

Messiah: "There Were Shepherds Abiding in their Fields" - "Glory to God"

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