Isn’t it amazing, that the first folks to hear that God had come into the world, were not the religious leader, not the politicians, nor the lawyers, no, it was to simple folks, working at their job. The shepherds in the hills overlooking Bethlehem, working at their everyday jobs, they were the ones who received the great glad tidings.

Luk 2:9-14 ESV And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. (10) And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. (11) For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (12) And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” (13) And suddenly there was 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 those with whom he is pleased!” Here is all of theology (talk about God) all wrapped up in one very short but very important piece of information, the shepherds are told that a savior has been born, the savior is Christ the anointed one of God, and finally that he is the Lord, God incarnate.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like to see this angel, the glory of the Lord shining forth, it says they were filled with fear, I can understand that part. Just think though, the angel tells them not to fear, and then delivers the message that the Messiah has been born, not that he is coming on a war-horse with the army of God behind him, but rather, he is lying in a manger, wrapped in cloth, a baby in a manger. Then the multitude of the heavenly host, the angelic choir singing the song we know as “Gloria in Excelcis Deo”, Glory to God.

When the angels are done delivering the good news, the shepherds head to Bethlehem to see this wonder for themselves. They have been given the identity of the Savior, and where they can find him and how they will recognize him. So they go to see this wonder that has been told to them. Notice in the story that the shepherds, upon finding the Savior/Baby just as they had been told, proceed to tell those who are there, we are not told who that is of course, we don’t need to know but those who are there receive the good news that the angels had delivered first to the shepherds.

Luk 2:17-19 ESV And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. (18) And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. (19) But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. Mary did you know? That is a song that has been sung by many gospel singers over the past few years, my favorite though is Mark Lowery, one of the writers of the song. Mary knew, because she had been told who this baby was by Gabriel a messenger of God nine months before the birth, she knew because her cousin Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist also told her. So she takes the message of the shepherds to heart, to meditate upon them as she all the other messages she has received. I am sure that the others in the room, except of course Joseph, were very surprised as what the shepherds revealed to them in the telling of the tale of angels, and a great heavenly chorus.

Now of course comes the best part of the story, at least for me it is the best part. You see, those normal, everyday working class folks did what so many of our “Church” people don’t do, they told the story abroad:

Luk 2:20 ESV And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. You have to wonder what other folks thought about these strange shepherds, praising and giving glory to God, what a wonder that must have been. What a beautiful story this is that Luke has written for all of us to hear and to pass on to others. This is not the story of Jolly old St. Nick, the story of reindeer flying, no it is the story of God, coming in the form of a defenseless baby. Not born to royalty, but to two ordinary people, Mary the Theotokos, (Mother of God) and Joseph his step-father, the man who God chose to bring him up in the knowledge of  life as a carpenter. Simple everyday people, folks who deal with life as it comes knowing that there are good times and there are hard times, but also knowing love. Love between themselves as husband and wife, and the Love of God in their lives as well.

So this is the story of Christmas, celebrated all over the world as a time of gift giving and receiving, a time when retailers, hope to make the profits they need to go into the new year coming up. NO this is the true story of Christmas, when God gave the gift of himself to all mankind, that all who will believe shall know eternal life in His presence, shall know the presence of the Holy Spirit of God in their lives always, guiding and helping them to be the men and women that God has for them to be. Sacrificial love, that is God’s gift to you and me, and it should be our gift to all we meet, especially our brothers and sisters in the faith.

Take time to do as the shepherds did, give God the glory, thank Him for all he is doing and has done in your life. If you don’t know Him, that take the message of the shepherds and come to meet Him, not as that Baby, but as the risen Lord of Lords and King of Kings. The human face of God almighty, Jesus the Christ of God, who will be coming back again some day.

May your Christmas (Christ Mass), be truly blessed. Amen.

 

 

 

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