The Candle of Joy: A Reflection for the Third Week of Advent

by Jessica Asbell

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

Luke 2:8-20 NIV

The shepherds were waiting for morning. They were waiting for the sky to turn pink and the sun to come up, because that meant another night was over and their sheep were safe. When the sun came up, there would be other shepherds to help watch the flocks by day. Night was more dangerous for sheep: it was easier for them to wander off, and there were more predators around. So the shepherds waited for morning. And instead of morning, they saw something totally unexpected: a sky full of angels, singing the praises of God and the Savior who had just been born. Their normal night was turned into something extraordinary and a night they would never forget. They were busy waiting for the night to be over, but something better than morning was coming.

How often does it feel like the night will last forever? Perhaps you have trouble sleeping and it seems like the night will never end. Or perhaps you’re slightly afraid of the dark and it feels like it goes on forever. Or maybe the days at school seem to drag on. Maybe you watch the clock for the last hour of the day, waiting and waiting for the bell to ring and the school day to be over. Most of the time, our days and nights feel mundane and normal. But sometimes, amazing things happen. Like the shepherds, we don’t always expect extraordinary things to happen in our ordinary days. But sometimes, God breaks into our days and we are awestruck. Maybe God does something big, like answer a prayer in a huge way. Or maybe it’s something small, like when someone gives you a hug and makes your day better. Whatever it is, spend your days waiting with anticipation that God will do something. God is always at work even we don’t always see it. God probably isn’t going to send tons of angels to sing the good news like He did for the shepherds when Jesus was born. But as we go through our normal days waiting for them to be over, make sure to also be on the lookout and waiting for God to do something. He always is. 

Reflection Question: What extraordinary things have happened to you on days that started out normal? What are the small ways that God reminds us He is there in the midst of our normal days?

Prayer: Ask God to help you be on the lookout for ways that He is working in the world.