Merry Christmas! I am enjoying a day hanging out with my wife and kids, talking to the family on the phone, and playing my son’s new XBOX 360 with him. We have had a good Christmas this year and my prayer is that you do too.
We also had a great Christmas Eve service last night; I was so blessed by all the hugs and handshakes of my church friends and family who came to worship Christ. We tried something a little different and had services earlier than in years past. I really enjoyed having just a 5PM service because it meant that I was home by 7! I was able to grill dinner for the family (James helped), which hasn’t happened on Christmas Eve for at least the last 7 years. All in all it was a pretty excellent evening. I even got a card and present from a couple who has been doing marriage counseling with me, and the words of the husband in the card made me cry. That was honestly the best gift that I have ever received from a person in a church I served at; it made the hard work and struggle and effort worth it! Let me just say, that card is going to stay close by to be re-read when times get tough.
I preached last night from Luke 2:8-20, which is well-known but perhaps not thought about in detail much. We know that angels appeared to shepherds who came and talked to Mary and Joseph, but when was the last time you really stopped to think about what God did in appearing to them?
8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;
11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.”
16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.
17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.
18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.
20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.
In the midst of the story of the birth of Jesus, Luke takes time to talk about some lowly shepherds who God announced His kingdom and His Son’s birth to. Shepherds were nowhere near the high and mighty of society. These guys weren’t kings; heck they probably weren’t even all that particular about their faith! Despite that (or maybe because of it!) God decided that they should be the first outside of Jesus’ mama and daddy* to know that God had come in the flesh!
God uses the least, the last, and the lost to accomplish His plans. Just because we are not among the high and mighty of society, that means nothing in God’s eyes. I am really blessed to pastor a church of 150 or so (with gusts up to maybe 200); though in the world’s eyes I haven’t achieved the marks of pastoral success (read my friend Kent’s blog about that for an excellent perspective), God nevertheless chooses to use me to serve His people and announce His good news to them. What a blessing! The same is true for each of us. No matter where you are in life or how “public” or high profile your position God still wants to use you accomplish His plan and tell others about His good news. He isn’t nearly as concerned for your position in life as He is about your disposition to life.
Likewise, when these shepherds listened to God and went to see Jesus, God changed their own lives as well as the lives of all who “wondered” or “marveled” at what they had to say. They were the first heralds to the people of the great love of God in sending the Lord Jesus! What a great reminder to all of us this Christmas to be faithful with what God has revealed in our lives, knowing that if we are He can and will use it to His glory to change us and others around us.
Merry Christmas from my family to yours. May today be filled with worship of God through His Son, Jesus Christ.
*We know from earlier in Luke that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, not by the sexual union of Joseph and Mary. Yet in any sense that really mattered Joseph was Jesus’ daddy. I know how that goes; my mom married my dad when I was six and he adopted me when I was eight. I know the difference between a father and a daddy! I also know that Elizabeth and John knew, but you get my point about these guys.