“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 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. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’ When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” Luke 2:7-20
The birth announcement of Jesus is filled with wonder and surprises.
“Jesus was created by a mother whom he created. He cried in the manger in wordless infancy, He the Word, without whom all human eloquence is mute.” Augustine (354-430)
The shepherds were considered second class citizens who could not fulfill judicial offices or be admitted into court as witnesses. It was a common understanding to buy wool, milk, or a kid from a shepherd was forbidden, under the assumption that it would be stolen property. It is understood that some shepherds earned their poor reputation, but others became victims of a cruel stereotype.
“I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:32
“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31
1. We are all “shepherds.”
“The Christmas story reminds us that hopelessness is the only doorway to true and eternal hope. It is only when you give up on you that you seek and celebrate what God, in holy love, offers you in the person and work of his son, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is true that hope is a thing; it is a person, and his name is Immanuel.” Paul David Tripp, Let Us Adore Him
…Helping broken people treasure Jesus.
2. Embrace the shepherd’s journey.
“Go and see…went in haste”
“As for me, I said in my prosperity, ‘I shall never be moved.’ By your favor, O Lord, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed.” Psalm 30:6-7
3. The shepherd’s response: worship and on mission with the Lord.
4. Keeping the Christ event central: pondering (thinking deeply about) the reality of the Advent.
HARK THE HERALD ANGELS SING (Stanza 2)
Christ, by highest heav’n adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord:
Late in time behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,
Hail th’ incarnate Deity!
Pleased as man with man to dwell,
Jesus our Immanuel.
A PRAYER FOR THE NEW YEAR
“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11