Sermon:
[Luke 2:8-20]

Most people in America are familiar with this passage, even if they rarely crack open a Bible. These verses from Luke have even entered the popular culture, through Linusí famous speech in the Charlie Brown Christmas video. Every December since 1965, in between televised scenes of the Grinch slithering around Whoville, and George Bailey being saved by Clarence the angel just as heís about to jump off the Bedford Falls bridge, and Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer running around the North Pole with Herbie (an elf who wants to be a dentist), we have Linus, who discovers the true meaning of Christmas in the gospel of St. Luke, chapter 2.

Now, itís certainly a welcome change of pace this December to hear the Bible being quoted on television, instead of the Florida election laws. And Iíd much rather turn on the TV right now and see Charlie Brown, or even the Grinch, than that smooth-talking lawyer David Boies. But my concern is that with all the annual repetitions, the familiarity of the story of the shepherds can cause us to take it for granted Ė to overlook just how amazing this incident really is. Because itís not just a story of Godís love for some shepherds. Itís a story about Godís love for us. And if we consider this story carefully, weíll see that it has a message of love and hope for each one of us here.

Letís start by looking at the most obvious feature of the story. Who does God announce the birth of His Son to? Who does he invite to come and see the new baby? A ragtag collection of sheep herders! There is only one announcement of Christís birth recorded in the Scriptures, only one invitation from God to anyone to come visit Mary and Joseph and the infant Jesus. And that one invitation goes to a bunch of uneducated, smelly, low-class, social and religious outcasts, a bunch of shepherds.

Let me tell you a bit about shepherds. They were the last people youíd expect God to take notice of. First of all, they were religious outcasts. According to Jewish religious law, these men were unclean. Their line of work prevented them from participating in the feasts and holy days that made up the Jewish religious calendar. Why? Well, somebody had to watch the sheep. When everyone else was making the trip to Jerusalem to make sacrifices at the temple, or to participate in one of the annual feasts, they were out in the fields, watching over the sheep. A modern day example might be a trucker or a shift worker, whose job keeps them from regularly attending church. It wasnít really their fault. But they were looked down on, from a religious point of view. Whatever might have been in their hearts, they werenít able to participate fully in the religious life of the community.

Not only that, but shepherds were borderline social outcasts. Since they were constantly on the move to find new pasture for their flocks, they were looked on with suspicion. Kind of the way people today might look at gypsies, or carnival workers. They were often
Jacob Meyer
December 20, 2012
Allan - this is some good stuff. Would like to use some of the material as I am also focusing on the Shepherds this year.
Bob Marsh
December 17, 2012
Alan, This is outstanding! I would like permission to use parts of this where led?
Danny Brightwell
December 10, 2012
Good lesson. I had already decided to concentrate my Christmas message from the Shepherds point of view so I particularly enjoyed your message.
Luke Douglas
December 18, 2009
This was very helpful! Thank you so much for sharing God''s message!
Linda Williams
December 11, 2008
Really thorough study of the word and great job making it relevant to people in the pews.
Tom Speight
December 8, 2008
What an intersting opening - most of the well known TV Christmas specials. All have memorable sceans & characters. How better the world is acquainted with them rather than Jesus.
Okanlawon Taiwo
December 4, 2008
This is a great sermon indeed. God bless you