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Sunday

4. Christ’s Nativity – Shepherds Are Awed




Maybe it’s sort of funny how much attention some of us put into putting together pretty outfits for Sunday worship. Sure, we may want to honor God by making a little extra effort when we get ready for church.

But what does a person wear, if he or she is going to visit the very Son of God, resting in a manger and wearing nothing but swaddling cloths?

This nativity painting makes a strong statement, as the shepherds clearly dropped everything and hurried to find the holy Baby immediately after the angels heralded His arrival. Bare-chested, sweaty, and slack-jawed, these guys made no pretense of propriety or style. They simply rushed to meet the Lord.



Adoration of the Shepherds, by Guido Reni, 1600s

This is not to say there’s anything wrong with dressing up for worship or sacred gatherings. It just feels like a reminder of sorts. God welcomes mankind to know Him and adore Him, even while we still wear tattered, sin-stained rags. Then He Himself clothes us in His own righteousness.

Glory to God in the highest.

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Saturday

3. Staged in Heaven – The Birth of Christ




This Italian Renaissance painting of the holy nativity looks to me somewhat like an ornately staged scene, with angels overhead and all the other key players caught mid-action below.

The moment captured here presents the pivotal point in all of history, when the divine entered the mortal.

Maybe this scene presents an apt reminder of the Lord’s hand in all of human history.

Events unfold around us, and we may sometimes assume things occur randomly, but not if we hold onto faith that God is still and always will be the Almighty Sovereign of the universe He created.




Mystic Nativity, by Sandro Botticelli, c1500

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Friday

2. Nativity Attendees – Angelic and Mortal



Angelic decorations are popular at Christmas. We sing songs about the heavenly hosts announcing the wonderful new of Jesus’ birth. Maybe we exercise more mindfulness of supernatural participants in our lives during this season than we are throughout the rest of the year. The reminder is both comforting and sobering, I believe.

This lovely nativity painting might become one of my favorite Christmas images. The faces look so sweet and sincere. The angels, though childlike, are present and attentive.

Oh, let's not forget that adorable donkey. As an equestrian enthusiast, I have to add that I love to see a beast of burden receiving genuine affection and good care. (Hey, this little guy carried a very pregnant Mary across many rugged miles. He deserves a rest and a few mane scratches from her grateful husband.)


Adoration of the Magi, by Charles-Andre van Loo, c1760

Note: Biblical historians are fairly certain that the trio of magi arrived to honor the Christ child several days after His birth. For the purposes of this devotional series, these fine art images are appearing in somewhat random order, rather than actual chronological sequence.

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