Last January, I was with our Women in the Middle study group studying the story of Simeon and Anna from Luke 2. As we worked our way through the story, it began to occur to our women that, although this was a story that continued the story of Jesus’ birth, it was not at all a story with which they were familiar. In fact, many of them never remembered reading this story at all. It got them wondering why. Why do we know the story of the shepherds and the angels and the wise men, but almost nothing about Zechariah, or Simeon and Anna, or the boys in Bethlehem? The truth is, we do hear many of these stories, but only once every three years, and almost never in chronological order. As I explained this to our women, they came up with an amazingly simple idea. What if, during the seasons of Advent, Christmas, and the beginning of Epiphany, we read through the entire story of the birth of Jesus from beginning to end? And what if we committed to doing it for several years, until Zechariah and Simeon and Anna and the boys in Bethlehem were as familiar a part of Jesus’ origin story as all the rest? This past fall, I brought this “crazy” idea to our Tri-Saints Worship and Music Committee, and they agreed to give it a try. And #jesusbirthatoz was born. As I started to really get into the story, I realized that the perfect introduction would be Mary’s Song in Luke 1. It’s not chronological (sorry!) but it fit in well to the themes of Christ the King Sunday while also providing a transition into Advent.
We will experience #jesusbirthatoz together in several ways. First, they will be our guiding texts for Sunday worship. Together, we will dive deeply into this story, both the familiar friends and the new (to us) acquaintances. After this introduction, we will be invited to delve deeply into the story over the course of the week with a daily flipbook devotion. You may get a paper copy at church week by week to decorate, color, and generally make your own. If paper is not your speed, you can find it one week at a time at Good God Ideas (https://goodgodideas.wordpress.com/category/jesusbirthatoz/), or daily on Instagram and Facebook. This resource is written for confirmation-level youth, but adults and children should also find daily inspiration and invitation into the story. Our monthly Dwelling in the Word Bible Studies will also follow the story, taking this more lengthy opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the more unfamiliar aspects of the story. I am so looking forward to introducing and reintroducing this, most sacred story to our community of faith! Join me, as together we journey through Jesus’ birth story from A to Z!
p.s. If you would like to see what the weekly Bible readings will be in advance, you can find the whole season here: Advent to Epiphany Lectionary 17 18