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Summary: God’s invitation to Jesus’ birth.

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A Christmas Presence - The Shepherds

Luke 2:8-20

December 23, 2007

Picture - show Nativity.

For the last four weeks we’ve talked together about God’s desire to have particular people present at the birth of His son. God sent out birth announcements to particular people - specifically inviting them to come and see.

Come and Adore the Christ-Child

3 weeks ago we said - God invited the wild prophet John the Baptist to be there. This "say it like he saw it" kind of guy was invited to affirm Jesus’ birth.

A week later we talked about the teenage Girl named Mary.

Last week we looked at the Magi - these religious seekers. These non-Jewish people who came and adored the Child.

And today we will look at the shepherds.

It is quite a rag-tag group when you think about it isn’t it? Had you taken a group picture of these people - I’m not sure you would choose to pass it out.

And yet God wanted each of them there-

Specifically led them there to Bethlehem

Through angels

Stars

Visions

And other signs.

God was determined.

It has been my prayer that each of us would be able to identify with each of these 4 and in doing so realize that you are invited.

You have been invited to come and see.

Come and celebrate this baby.

You don’t need to have him figured out.

You don’t need to know all the right answers.

You are invited to simply come to be present-to be a presence.

Wild ones like John.

Faithful ones like Mary.

Seeking like the Magi.

Outsiders like the Shepherds are welcome.

There is room for each of us at the manager.

What I want to do this morning is to read our text from Luke 2:8-20, page 1591 and then make 4 observations about it.

In contrast to the Magi/the Wisemen who were given a star to guide them from their homes in the east to Bethlehem, the shepherds were only give a description of what the baby would look like when they found him.

In contrast to the Magi who according to Matthew were given "the star (going) ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was." (Matthew 2:9) the Shepherds were simply told - "This will be your sign" - v. 12 - "You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Where the Magi were led to the baby, the shepherds had to look for him.

Where the Magi were given a beaming light in the sky to follow - the shepherds had to go and find the baby.

Now each of groups ended up with Jesus.

Each group made it there.

But-how they got there was different.

I kind of equate the Magi’s method of following the star, keeping one’s eyes on the bright light in the sky to how most women get to a new destination. They are willing to take, follow, write down and be obedient to directions.

Tell a lady about a cool store, park, zoo or coffee shop and they’ll ask you for a phone #, street address, directions, hours of operation - landmarks around it. Where to park, color of the building, estimated travel time.

Tell a man about that same place and they reply - "I’ll find it." "But you don’t know what it’s called, Where it is - if it is in Mount Vernon, Burlington, Sedro-Woolley, Seattle or Canada." "It doesn’t matter." he’ll say - "I’ll find it." Why? Because men are like shepherds. "Yep, we’ll get there. We know where we are seeking to end up, but the way we’ll get there - that’s mine to decide."

The Magi were led.

The shepherd’s had to find the baby Jesus.

Many church people are like the Magi. For people like myself who have gone to church since their infancy, we more or less were led to the baby Jesus by

Our parents.

Our Sunday School teachers.

Our Children’s Church teachers.

Through the Vacation Bible School each year.

Through the Spring Musical

The children’s choir.

Youth group.

Confirmation.

These were our stars shining in our lives at nearly every age.

We were drug to all these things that were signposts along the way helping us to embrace the faith of our fathers and mothers. And we dutifully went. And most of the time became Christians and are now doing the church thing with our own kids. We’re Magi, we know the way, are led along the way and end up worshipping Jesus.

For those of you not raised in the church, the way you got to Jesus or the way you are making your way to him now is like the shepherds - you know he is out there but you are

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