I find it very meaningful that the Lord was born in the night, that the angels announced to the shepherds the good news of the Savior’s birth while they were sleeping in the fields at night, and that the Kings followed a star visible in the night sky in order to find the newborn King. Jesus proclaimed himself the Light of the World and light is most clearly seen when it shines in the darkness.
We can be “lost in the dark,” personally and as a society. We are living through a particularly dark time in history. Sometimes it is hard to figure out what’s really true or really good… How am I fooling myself and how is society fooling itself… Where is evil promoted as good and good denigrated as an evil…. In the darkness we can feel drowsy, overwhelmed, distracted, frightened. It is when we are in the darkness that we can expect God to intervene in what seems to be impenetrable confusion or illusion with the light of truth which is always an announcement of how God is with us.
Contemplative Prayer Guide with the Masterpiece
Rest your gaze on the image. Let your gaze be the path that returns you to the center.
After a few moments of silence, close your eyes and become aware of your desire to be with God at this moment. Ask God to help you let go of whatever may distance you from his presence to you.
Now open your eyes and let your eyes rest on the image.
What do you notice about the people in the image? What are the emotions that seem to be expressed in the image? What meaning does the light and dark parts of the image have for you? How does the image touch you? What surprises you about the image? What do you not like about the image?
When distractions occur, return intentionally to gazing at the image.
Close your eyes and enter into the event depicted in the image.
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 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 Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’” (Luke 2)
Interact with the people in the story. Speak with them. Take part in their emotion, their faith, their courage…
Do you feel close to one of the people depicted in the image?
Does the image remind you of some event or some person in your own life?
Just sit and soak in the grace that arises from the image.
Ask Jesus: “What do you want me to take from this time of prayer as I return to my life?”
Image: Govert Flink Angels Announcing Jesus’ Birth to the Shepherds, public domain