Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Thursday, December 2

By Fran Wheeler, Stephen Ministry

Shadows Under the Star

Read Luke 2:35b

“And a sword will pierce your own soul, too.” 

Christmas—a fantasy, all gold and red—excitement and joy! But personal sadness and loss may overshadow Christmas, leaving some adrift and alone, and perhaps feeling guilty for not sharing the joy. Scripture, however, reveals a deeper story, filled with glory, yet also tempered by loss and fear. The story includes circumstances as difficult and heartbreaking as our own might be. Is there a blessing included for those who suffer?

We usually ignore the shadows within the Christmas story, looking only at the glory. Angel appearances mask the fears of a young girl and a man with shattered dreams. Living the hard reality overshadows the joy Mary experienced with Elizabeth. The star, angel choir, and adoring shepherds make us forget that the baby was born far from the comforts of home and family. Even when the child is presented to the Lord, a prophet speaks frightening words: “And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” And soon, as they planned to go home, Herod sent other baby boys to their deaths, forcing Mary and Joseph to flee to Egypt. In spite of exciting moments, Mary indeed had much to ponder in her heart.

What is the lesson for us? Whether we grieve losses or are caught up in the beauty of Christmas, we should remember the sacrifices made: Mary’s fear, the couple’s life forever changed, a difficult journey, a lonely birth, and the prescient words of the pain to come when the baby becomes the rejected Messiah and is crucified. But Christ arose, and his words still ring out: “The light has come into the world and it will never be overcome by darkness.” Whatever our circumstances, Christmas brings to all of us the eternal message of hope.

So for everyone, Hope is the blessing of Christmas.


Lord, as we celebrate Advent and Christmas, help us to recognize and give thanks for the sacrifices made, and walk in the Lord’s everlasting light. Amen.

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