Day 1. A Lantern for the Stable

[above: Lanterns in the snow—Photo by Jake Yoon on Unsplash]

So [the shepherds] went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. (Luke 2:16, NRSV)

We must lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us.

—C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

The nativity is an extraordinary story, with angel choruses on one side and wise men bearing gold and frankincense and myrrh on the other. And into this grand and supernatural scene, God calls forth a group of shepherds, men with calloused hands, men who smell of livestock and open fields. In the midst of so much majesty, what do such ordinary, everyday people as shepherds have to offer? 

Perhaps they brought along a lamb, a blanket, a lantern for the stable, or some food for the weary travelers. We are not told. But we do know this: the shepherds hastened to be present. They hurried to respond to what they had been given. They opened their hearts. They stood dumbfounded, witness to the miracle. Then they lingered. 

As I prepare for Christmas, as I purchase gifts for family and friends, I wonder how I might follow their example. Tuning my heart to hear angel voices. Allowing my routines to be interrupted by the divine. Gaining wisdom to lay aside all else to behold the face of God. And finding the courage to come to Jesus just as I am.

In Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, C. S. Lewis reminds us of the appropriateness of the shepherds’ gifts. Whatever else they may have brought to the stable, they laid aside their plans and chose to present themselves to Emmanuel, God-with-us. 

In this busy Advent season, what does the Lord require of me? To be alert to the ways that the supernatural breaks through into my very ordinary life, to respond quickly to what I see and hear, to be no more and no less than who I truly am. And to discover—to my utter astonishment—that that is exactly the gift that my Lord God, King of the universe, has been waiting for. 

PRAYER: Lord, prepare my heart this Advent. Amen.

By Diana Pavlac Glyer

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #133+ in 2019]

Diana Pavlac Glyer teaches in the Honors College at Azusa Pacific University. She is the author of two books about Lewis, Tolkien, and the Inklings and has written a devotional called Clay in the Potter’s Hands.
Next articles

Day 2. Loving Others Through Prayer

Why should my prayer be powerless to help another?

Robert Trexler

Day 3. Love your brother and sister

Does a bullying boss or corrupt politician matter to God?

Suzanne Bray

Day 4. Trust in times of fear

How difficult life is when we dwell in fear instead of surrender.

Patti Callahan Henry

Day 5. A seeking heart

Mary had to make a quick decision.

Luci Shaw
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