I found myself tempted this morning when I was going back over this reading to crash through it fairly quickly. These opening chapters the gospels are probably ones that I have heard or read the most in my life. Between yearly readings through Advent and Christmas, they have been in my life at least once per year. They have become familiar, which is nice, but also a bit dangerous. It is easy to think that I’ve heard or discerned all that there is to learn.
Two falsehoods are contained in that thought. First, we can never fully comprehend all that scripture has to teach us. Second, even if I’m familiar with a passage of scripture, I still need what it has to teach me, even if there is nothing “new” about it. Sometimes what we actually need the most is a reminder of what we think we know.
For instance: after reading through the Old Testament, does the genealogy of Jesus from Matthew 1 mean something different to you this time around? Are the names more familiar? Do the names tell you anything after reading their stories? Or have you stopped to consider the immensity of what God does by fulfilling prophesy through Mary in the way he does? Have you stopped to consider how Joseph must have felt through all of this?
There are always things we can either learn or be reminded of when we read scripture. We must be careful never to feel so comfortable with scripture that we are not asking the Holy Spirit to show us something, to minister to our hearts and to give us fresh wonder at the amazing things God does.
Here’s another perspective to consider: we are walking toward Thanksgiving and we are reading what would normally be a “Christmas story”. I think it is actually pretty cool that we are reading about the birth and ministry of Jesus leading up to Thanksgiving. It gives us something to focus our thanks on as we enter that holiday.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Matthew 2; Luke 2:29-52