[#pictureAdvent] December 6: SHEEP

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By Christine V. Hides
Christine serves as Director of Children’s at Youth Ministry at Northbrook UMC and blogs about faith formation at ChristineVHides.com.
Northbrook, Illinois

First, read Isaiah 40:9-11

When my daughter was five, she told me that she imagined that God looked like a swirling, colorful bundle of stars. She tried to recreate what she saw in her head, but soon realized that what she imagined couldn’t be drawn on paper.

No one pictures God exactly the same way. Today’s reading includes two different images of God’s arms. God’s strong arm is raised at the front of a great parade as the exiles return home. God’s arms also safely hold the tiniest of lambs. 

In the Bible God is described as a shepherd, a king, an artist, a rock, and so much more. During Advent we prepare ourselves to see God in the most gentle and vulnerable position possible – as a tiny baby born in a stable. God’s arms are no longer metaphorical, they are Jesus’s sweet, baby arms, able to reach out from his manger toward the wooly sheep.

No one can completely describe God with words or with pictures. But, we are able to imagine the comfort of being safely cradled in muscular, yet kind arms. We can tell others what it feels like to be safe and cared for, like a lamb snuggled in the shepherd’s lap. “Here is God!” we can say. Strong and gentle, mysterious and amazing. Beautifully indescribable.

Prayer: Loving God, we are thankful for your love and care for us. Through the challenges we face, continue to cradle us safely. In this season of Advent, help us to prepare ourselves to proclaim your presence among us.

Discussion/Reflection Questions: 

1. How do you imagine God?
2. Which descriptions of God that you have heard or read do you like the best? 
3. Talk about a time you felt safe and comforted in God’s care.