Summary: A sermon that looks at how christmas made a difference to the shepherds and how it can to us.
Angels and Wisemen - Shepherds and trees,
Won’t someone tell me the reason Please,
I’ve listened to Buskers and stood in long queues,
Shoppped till I dropped into my weary old shoes,
I’ve bought Coca cola and heard a Christmas Cantata,
Went to a Santa Parade and heard old Frank Sinatra,
Then there’s the old red and white guy an icon for kids,
Him, the presents the reindeer and the sleigh on the skids,
But when I look at the manger - at the shepherds and hay,
There is something more here that makes christmas day,
There is something that’s found in the little quiet Child,
who alone can make God and the world reconciled,
As I glance at the scene through that old stable door ,
Then my logic declares I need to know more.
Today we celebrate Christmas.
What we seek to do today is to celebrate the something more of Christmas.
The x factor if you like.
In Luke chapter 2 we read of some Shepherds and some angels
lets read it together
read from verse 8 - 20.
At the end of this passage we read that - the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
In this passage these shepherds moved from terror to glorifying and praising God.
Why because in between the discovered the X factor of Christmas.
(When i preached this sermon I used two x’s one that made the manger and one that made the cross.
I put these on overhead projection masters as an illustration of where the heart of the x factor lies. )
Lets journey through this passage together to discover just what it was that bought such wonder to these shepherds.
In Scene one of this real life drama we have some shepherds living out in the fields close to Bethlehem.
They were tough outdoors men used to the rugged out doors life.
for them there were no Toyota High luxes or three wheelers - there were also many nights spent out in the open watching their sheep protecting their livelihoods from wild beasts thieves and any other dangers.
I guess in such an environment - in the atmosphere of the reliable - the tried and true - the feel good factor must have been quite high.
sometimes in life it is like that you feel nothing could knock you off your pedestal.
Then in some amazing way God shows up and reminds you of your vulnerability - your mortality - your utter dependence of him.
If you’ve ever been caught in a lightening storm on your own you understand this.
Earthquakes for some have this effect.
For others death or tragedy or shame - change your whole relationship with God.
At that point what you thought was important is no longer important and in such an environment knees turn to jelly and hearts turn to God.
Strangely though there is no credit to those who can steel themselves through such times - reserve pity not admiration for such people for they are missing God’s second chance opportunities in life.
Such special moment only come a few times during the average lifetime.
How we can respond can change the world.
God speaks in a myriad of ways :
In 1966 Nien Cheng a wealthy industrialist in China was bought before a tribunal and was tried as an imperialist spy even though she was innocent.
She was taken to prison and locked into a small, damp cell.
One day encouragement came from an unexpected source.
A pea sized spider crawled through the rusty bars and climbed towards the ceiling. Suddenly the spider swung out on a silken thread, attached the strand to the base of the bar and spun another, then another, weaving a web of intricate beauty, "I had just watched an architectural feat by an extremely skilled artist." Nien Cheng wrote. "My mind was full of questions. Who had taught the spider to make the web? Could it really have acquired the skill through evolution, or did God create the spider and endow it with the ability to make the web so that it could catch food and perpetuate its species?"
"I knew I had witnessed something that was extraordinarily beautiful and uplifting. I thanked god for what I had just seen. It helped me see that He was in control. Mao Zedong and his revolutionaries seemed much less menacing, I felt a renewal of hope and confidence."
A renewal of hope and confidence bought about by a spider who pointed to God.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn was a prisoner in Russia.
he was on a program of hard labour and slow salvation.
One day he felt like giving up.