Summary: The Christmas Touch - part 3 Lessons learned from the shepherds.
Advent: This morning our journey to Bethlehem continues. The season surrounds us and the pace quickens as we count down the final days to Christmas. Amidst the hustle and bustle we sometimes suffer from tunnel vision. We’ll wake up one day and realize Christmas has come and gone and we missed what we really wanted.
Weary from worry and stress that attempts to squeeze the faith out of us, we come to worship today longing for a fresh touch from God. God’s touch is all we really need this Christmas. I hope that’s why you’re here today. God delights to reach down from heaven to touch the hearts of people who are honest enough to admit their need for renewal.
(while lighting the first four candles) Today we relight three sticks of wax and a fourth previously unlit: the shepherds candle. The shepherds outside Bethlehem were overlooked by many, but not by God. The shepherds were among the first to experience the touch of God from a tiny hand reaching out from a manger. May these small flames burning before us cause us desire the fire of God to be rekindled within our hearts again; let’s discover a fresh touch from God.
+ Luke 2:8-20 8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." 13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." 15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." 16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (NIV)
Let’s face it; shepherds were nobodies. Being a shepherd was not a popular career choice; shepherds were modern day garbage collectors. It was a dirty job, but someone had to do it. God chose to announce the birth of His Son to a bunch of nobodies.
If you or I would have been directing the Christmas story, we would have done things differently. We would have made sure Jesus, the Son of God, had a proper place to be born and was recognized by all the important people.
I’m glad God did thing His way. If Jesus had been born among kings and queens some of us would never feel accepted by Him; what right do we simple ordinary people have to come before kings?
Jesus lowly birth is God’s way of saying, “I accept you; you’re welcome here.” Regardless of your social status, from the highest to the lowest, you can come to Jesus.
Shepherds who had nothing to offer the baby Jesus were the first to be told of His birth and come to see the child laid in a manger. Later Magi from the east sought out the new born king offering gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Right from the start both the rich and the poor, Jews and Gentiles came to Jesus. None were turned away. God welcomed everyone reaching out through His infant Son with a touch from God Himself.
Today you and I come to worship Jesus. Like the shepherds many of us have nothing to offer our Lord, but we need His touch, AND GOD WILL TOUCH US; NO ONE WILL BE TURNED AWAY.
The message of the angels to the shepherd said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” God is not against you; GOD IS FOR YOU. God reaches out to each of us with His great love. The Lord will touch us with His peace, His grace. The favor of God is upon us; He wants to touch us with His love.