There’s room for you, your doubts and your busyness on the journey. Let’s walk on.

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Week 5: Arms Wide

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

– Luke 2:10-11

I love the freedom, joy and exuberance displayed by the shepherds in the Christmas story.

They are overjoyed by this good news of great joy—and they are uninhibited from hurrying off to see Jesus, then spreading the word about him. Then they continue to glorify and praise God.

I imagine almost a childlikeness, their arms literally open wide as they praised God.

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. … The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

– Luke 2:15-18, 20

A young Peruvian girl stands in a road with her arms open wide and a smile on her face.

It is dangerously easy to be cynical in our society. Far too easy to cross our arms and close off our hearts to the good news of great joy found in the Christmas story. The grace and freedom of Christ seems too good to be true in our harsh and oppressive world—so we refuse to receive it.

There’s something for us in the example of the shepherds—who receive the news with open arms and immediately respond to it.

What would happen if we responded to this good news? How would the postures of our hearts change, not just for a season, but in every moment, season and stage? What kind of transformation would we start see in our life and the world around us?

Perhaps we’d be more hopeful and less cynical. Bolder and less shy about coming to Jesus, asking tough questions, doing a random act of kindness, or inviting a friend to learn more about Jesus with you—whatever those things look like practically for you.

Cynthia hugs the young woman that she and her husband sponsor in Uganda.

At Compassion, we have the privilege of bearing witness to tens of thousands of Canadians opening their arms wide to children around the world. They do it because they’ve received this good news of great joy—and want to share it in a practical and transformative way.

Cynthia and Rob had the opportunity to visit the child they sponsor in Uganda this year, and quite literally open their arms to embrace the young woman they feel such a deep connection to because of years of letters and prayers.

Their story is a beautiful example of what happens when we choose to live with arms wide to what God is inviting us into.

Today—might He be inviting you to receive this good news of great joy?

Reflection

As we wrap up this Advent season and look to the new year, what is the posture of your heart? Are your arms crossed or open to the grace, freedom, hope, peace and joy that Christ offers us?

Prayer

Lord, I want to open my arms to receive the abundant life you offer us. I want to live boldly and freely, so that I can share your grace, hope, love and freedom with others, like the shepherds did on that first Christmas night. As we look to a new year, help me to open my arms to the people and opportunities you put in my life. Amen.

Action

Not all of us are New Year’s resolution types. It’s true that New Year’s is just another day—but there is something to say about new beginnings and the opportunity to reflect at the start of a new year (and decade!). Sometime this week, take a moment to reflect on what God might be inviting you into this year. Write in a journal, tap some things out in a note on your phone, draw a picture, tell a friend—do something to help your reflections exist outside just your brain space. And be open to what God might be saying or doing!

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About the Postures of Advent Series:

The postures we enter the Christmas season with can make all the difference in how we experience it. In the midst of a season known for happiness, joy and light, we invite you to bring all your heart postures—the joyful ones, the hurt ones, the anticipatory ones and the anxious ones to the manger.

Through our 5-week blog series, Postures of Advent, we’ll invite you to step into what the reality of the coming of Jesus means in our messy and broken lives. We’ll walk through heart postures that inspire us to surrender to, refocus on, and embrace the grace of our King Jesus. There’s room for you, your doubts and your busyness on the journey. Let’s walk on.

Week 1: Eyes Fixed
Week 2: Head Up
Week 3: Knees Bent
Week 4: Hands Open
Week 5: Arms Wide

Written by: Alyssa Esparaz

Alyssa works in the role of Content and Communications Specialist at Compassion Canada, telling stories that inspire and equip the Church to live compassionate lifestyles. She is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto, where she studied International Development.