In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we noted that, after the first Christmas was over, both Mary and the shepherds went back to work. Mary was devoted to the care of her infant while the shepherds gave themselves to the care of their sheep.
Is there a way to take Christmas back to work with us? I’m not thinking about playing Christmas music in January or greeting people with “Merry Christmas” throughout the year. Rather, I’m wondering how the reality of Christmas might transform our experience of our work.
One of the most familiar and beloved of Christmas messages is “Peace on Earth.” You see this on Christmas cards, billboards, store windows, and church bulletins. Even people who don’t believe the basic story of Christmas can embrace “Peace on Earth.” It sounds wonderful, especially in a time of so much conflict in our world.
When we read about the shepherds in Luke 2, it would be tempting to project onto the story our own experience of Nativity scene shepherds. In reality, though, shepherding was hard, gritty work.
Today is Christmas Eve. If you go to church this evening, chances are you may see an enactment of the Christmas story, complete with shepherds and maybe even sheep. This is especially true if you attend a service meant for younger children and families. (The photo comes from a Christmas Eve service at Irvine Presbyterian Church. My daughter is the shepherd with the light blue shawl.)
On this last day of Advent, I want to point our attention back to Mary, who has journeyed for 9 months knowing that she is carrying the Son of God, whose reign will be eternal (Luke 1:26-38).
When I laid out my plan for Life for Leaders in December, I was not expecting to write this particular devotion. But, between yesterday’s writing (on December 2) and today (December 3), something happened to encourage me to add something unexpected.
Okay, here I go again, talking about women’s work. You may recall that the devotion from last Friday focused on this theme. As we examined Luke 1:57-58, we considered the implications of Elizabeth’s giving birth to John (who will come to be known as John the Baptist)
In Luke 2:7, once again a woman gives birth in the Christmas narrative.
In this hymn of praise to God, Zechariah proclaims that God “has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David” (1:69).
I realize that using the phrase “women’s work” might get me in some trouble. There was a time when this expression was used for activities like cooking and cleaning, chores usually assigned to women in the traditional American family. If women worked “outside of the home,” typically they were nurses, teachers, secretaries, and such. But, in the last fifty years, many women have discovered that they are capable of doing much more, including jobs that once were reserved for men. The gap between “women’s work” and “men’s work,” if you will, has narrowed considerably. Women now excel in many roles that were once filled mainly if not exclusively by men.