December 26, 2021
• Rev. Kevin Davis
Last week we talked about the gifts that we bring – That this entire Advent season we have spent our time preparing. And yet today we find – no matter how prepared, or unprepared we have been, no matter how organized or disorganized, together or broken, messy or clean, that Jesus still shows up! The gift of Jesus arrives just in time in unique ways in all of our lives. We may try to tidy up, or make things perfect, but the only saving grace that is real – is the Grace of Jesus Christ – in the Manger – Shepherds, animals, feed trough and all!
Jesus redeems the time, redeems the moments where our weakness gets the best of us. Jesus makes all things new. So, we light the candles of HOPE, LOVE, JOY & PEACE. We find that the Shepherds- as messy as they were, answered the call and living into this moment of announcing – That Today a Savior has been born to YOU – Jesus Christ is Born! And in this moment we realize that Jesus is enough. The shepherds being welcomed into the story of our Lord and Savior is a true sign for ages to come, and today it’s a sign to you and I. That God is calling us by name, and that all we need to bring, is all that we are – mess and all. And because of this we find:
I. Hope Leads us on the Journey- (Luke 2:15)
The angels had instilled this hope in the Shepherds – Good News of Great Joy To ALL PEOPLE! They were in a place where they would have, or could have assumed that they would be the last people on earth to receive the good news. The last people on earth to see the day of redemption and salvation....and Now they are the messengers? They were not considered people of power and authority – and yet God sends the message to the least of these - – This humble approach was a choice that God made. - and what do you know, there is a theme throughout this Bible of ours! That you are loved, that you are included in this HOPE THAT WE HAVE!
The Magi, in the Gospel of Matthew, are directed by their knowledge, by their learning, their ability to interpret the movement of the stars and the planets in the heavens. They learned through the sages in Jerusalem... They went to talk to political figures to find out more....The Magi had their way to Bethlehem.
The Shepherds had their way to Bethlehem and it was fueled by Hope. The hope that the Angels gave them by sharing the good news with them and telling them to go experience for themselves, and share their experience.... I mean, most of society at that time would have cringed at the idea of these shepherds sharing the good news of Jesus Christ the Savior – The King of Kings. Truth be told, most of society would have felt more comfortable with the Magi sharing this news... what does this mean when a bunch of smelly shepherds show up.... Maybe don’t look at the messengers, don’t smell the messengers, but hear the Gospel! Hear the Good news for what it is – HOPE AND SALVATION FOR ALL!
The Magi and the Shepherds show us that there are many roads to Bethlehem and each road brings us great HOPE! Some come through study, others will come through a difficult season in their lives, some will come because they were a mess, and the angels showed up anyway. This Good news of Great Joy is for all people. We SEE HOPE &
II. . The Love of God inspires the gift
Jesus was born in Bethlehem – far from any political power, was born to a young couple, unwed or only recently married, There were no elaborate preparations, no reservations made at a nice hotel, Jesus was born in transit – the crib was a feeding trough, and those who came to visit were shepherds – they were not kings. This shows us the extent of God’s Love. The most humble of circumstances is confirmation that this gift of Great Joy is for all people!
God extends his love to those in the most humble condition, to show that His love is for all people. While it’s our human nature that wants so bad to earn, to deserve the love that we receive. It’s the perfection of God that knows that his Love must reach beyond our imperfections and our failed attempts to be perfect. The Shepherds were messy, and they went to Bethlehem and found scene that they were very comfortable with – Jesus in a Manger, the animals, the elements, the circumstances....
The Angels didn’t send the Shepherds to a palace....While it may have looked like those in a palace had earned something – God was not engaged in that type of thinking at all. LISTEN – Because if he was engaged in that type of thinking we wouldn’t be happy with what we earned. We too often engage in this type of thinking and believe we deserve punishment, or maybe that we deserve the bad things that have happened to us....We can be harder on ourselves than most – and yet God doesn’t engage in that type of thinking. God acts out of the abundance of love for his creation! Yes, that means you! GOD LOVES YOU DEEPLY. And he sent his only Son to this earth. And Now Jesus intercedes for us!
We See HOPE, LOVE and We see how
III. The Shepherds Respond with Joy (17-18)
This Joy that Jesus brings inspired the Shepherds to be messengers. You see it was a bold move to show up to see the King of Kings, but they didn’t stop there – the Joy that they had once they realized the Jesus the Savior had been born – inspired them to become messengers.
The Shepherds were first messengers to Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus – They told them what they had heard from the Angels. It was a clear confirmation of what the Angels had said – That they would find a baby wrapped in clothes, lying in a manger. And it was a clear confirmation to Mary – who had also heard from the Angel! Mary, the mother of Jesus and these Messy Shepherds... Look at the way God is including all in his Message of Great Joy TO ALL PEOPLE!
For the Shepherds – it was a site of a Savior in humble circumstances, something they could fully relate to. No wonder it was a Joyous occasion! Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior – in his very birth relating to their circumstances.... The family relating to their life experiences... Have you ever gone through a rough, difficult time, and God puts someone in your life that can relate? If you have been blessed enough to experience that – you know it’s like a weight lifted off your shoulder. There is a joy found in difficult circumstances when you find someone who walks with you through the mess.
This is the feeling that the Shepherds had when they discovered a different type of Savior – PURE JOY. This savior was not on a throne of gold, or some pedestal, no, he was closer to the ground surrounded by life. Jesus truly came down to us. Because if it was up to us, we would never be able to make it up to him! So – There is HOPE, LOVE, JOY, and finally.
IV. Peace - The Shepherds Return to their Flocks
The Shepherds return to their normal everyday lives – but their lives had truly changed. Now, for them to embrace this change may have been difficult. They knew there was a savior born, and that one-day Jesus would change the entire world, but it would take time. It was what we often experience in life – Hurry up and wait! Wait for God’s timing – After all - they didn’t begin to imagine an infant leading the nations. Instead, they found a great peace that could only come from God – Maybe it was a peace they could not understand.
Now, I’m thinking that this season has been super busy for everyone. I know that It can be incredibly difficult to take a moment to gather your thoughts, to sense peace – but this is part of what Jesus brings as a gift to us all. I think that it takes initiative on our parts to recognize, to sense the gift of peace, and to take a deep breath, and live into this gift. This gift is often seen after all the busyness happens. It all escalates and then it there is this space... don’t fill it up, instead enjoy the peace of Jesus Christ in this season!
Jesus shows up in unique ways in all of our lives. Christmas is possible in every moment. The candles are lit, and HOPE, LOVE, JOY & Peace can be found in all situations. Hospital call illustration -