A discovery – a big discovery – happened when the first Christmas was celebrated over 2,000 years ago. Shepherds were tending sheep and praying just outside of Bethlehem. Suddenly the glory of the Lord shone around them and an angel encouraged them not to fear.
Just what is this glory that outshines darkness and calms fear?
The ancient Greek definition of glory, as used in the passage above, explains a transforming element of prayer. Strong’s Concordance has, “glory: a condition to be enjoyed now through the devout contemplation of the divine majesty of Christ… This will include not only the blessedness of the soul, but also the gain of a more excellent body.”
I experienced this glory two years ago. For weeks I had been preparing for a full day of important meetings. Early that morning I awoke rather ill. My first resort in taking care of myself or addressing any crisis is prayer. Now though I was not feeling the immediate help I needed. Despite feeling poorly I got dressed. And I continued to pray, turning my thought to the gratitude I genuinely felt for the opportunities these meetings presented.
My prayer did include a contemplation of the Christ, the goodness or God-likeness that Jesus exemplified and which we can discern in ourselves and others. For me this led to a successful day. I went to bed as soon as I reached home that evening and awoke the next day refreshed and well.
Those shepherds went on that Christmas night to bring gifts as they followed a bright star to the nativity. I wish for everyone the glory and joy they found!