People are welcome to attend our The Journey class on Wed at 9:45 or Sunday at 11:15, or online.
Week Five: The Manger
Goals of Chapter 5
In your own words how do you see the spot tradition reports Jesus was born?
Reflect on the meaning of the site chosen for the Messiah’s birth
Ponder the long-range meaning of the conditions of the Messiah’s birth
Discuss the meaning of two visits from the Shepherds and the Magi
What is your new and significant understanding of God’s will for humankind as reflected in the incarnation, the Word made Flesh?
Second Bible Reading Luke 2:8-20
1. Opening Prayer
We extol you, Lord, for you have drawn us up and did not let our foes rejoice over us. O Lord, we cried to you for help and you have healed us. Therefore, let us sing praises to the Lord and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment; his favor for a lifetime. Our weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes in the morning. Our souls will praise you, Lord, and not be silent. O lord our God, we will give thanks to you forever. Amen.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 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.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
2. Opening Activity — Bible Reading
This is the last week of our study. We have talked about the preparation for the journey, the promise of a child, the dreams that encouraged Mary and Joseph, the predictions of what would happen, and finally we see the hope fulfilled as the Christ Child is born.
- How have you or your family celebrated the birth of the Christ Child (not the holiday called Christmas.)
- If you had a creche growing up, what was it like? If you have one now is it plain, small, large, elaborate? (these questions are not meant as judgments but as ways to demonstrate the variety of ways in which this most significant birth is recognized and celebrated not in churches, but in homes.)
3. Video Presentation
Sights to Consider
- Modern Bethlehem
- Caves around Bethlehem, still used by Bedouin
- Floor plan of first-century dwelling in Bethlehem
- Manger Square in Bethlehem
- Church of the Nativity (CoN)
- Door of Humility leading into (CoN)
- Rich interior of (CoN)
- Grotto under altar of (CoN)
- Spot marked by fourteen-point silver star, said to be where Christ was born.
- Chapel of the Manger where it is said that the infant Christ was placed after His birth
- Stone manger typical of first-century
- The Shepherds’ fields
- A modern shepherd with sheep
- Tradition has affected but not changed some of the facts we know about the Nativity.
- Every element in the Nativity has a meaning; while the Nativity is not an allegory, the event was carefully planned from time immemorial.
- Christians find new meanings and new realities in the elements of the Nativity
- Luke and Matthew’s accounts of the Nativity, while different are complementary.
- The events of the nativity demonstrate that Jesus was not simply the Messiah of the Jews but instead the Christ of all humankind.
4. Group Discussion (in the interest of time—pick out any topic or suggest one of your own)
Do you think God expected people to respond to the Nativity differently to help them as individuals?
Do you think committed Christians tend to read the Nativity Story back not their own lives?
Do you think Jesus’ birth is still good news of great joy? Why?
Hamilton asks on pages 126-7: “If Jesus’ purpose was NOT to lead a military charge against the Romans to save the Jews from Roman occupation, then from what did he save them, and us?”
5. Final Suggested Assignment:
We have looked at the experience of the Nativity in depth. However, the story is not over yet. Just as the shepherds proclaimed all that they saw and heard on the hillside in the manger, so must we as modern-day Christians proclaim the message of the angels and the presence of Christ.
On a 3 by 5 card that I have provided for you, please jot down at least 5 ways you will proclaim the good news in the weeks ahead. Keep the card in your wallet or purse or day-timer or on your PDA to remind you to make known what has been revealed to you about this child.
6. Closing prayer:
Praise the Lord!
Praise God in God’s sanctuary; praise God in God’s mighty firmament!
Praise God for God’s mighty deeds; praise God according to God’s surpassing greatness!
Praise God with trumpet sound; praise God with harp and lute!
Praise God with tambourine and dance; praise God with strings and pipe!
Praise God with clanging cymbals; praise God with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord! Amen.