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Summary: Learning from the heralding messages of the Angels to the Shepherds. In this first message of our Christmas series we learn to respond like the shepherds... to pause our normal activity, search out Christ, and come to a place of worship. This series conc

THE PURPOSE OF CHRISTMAS

Luke 2: 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." 13 Suddenly 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."

Christmas… hard to believe it’s already upon us.

Hard to believe that today we start advent… four Sundays leading up to Christmas. It’s here, ready or not…

Christmas is an amazing time of year. The largest holiday in all the world… in almost every corner of the globe this is one of the largest celebrations of the year. In fact not only is it a focus one day a year, but at least for an entire month… one-twelfth of the year focused on this monumental day…

But like every year I encounter this moment, I think about our focus… for I know even for me I start to drift… I look at things that need to be done, year-end goals we need to finish up, getting decorations up, Christmas parties to attend, presents to get… and life already at a fast pace consumes me all the more.

Yet Christmas marks more than a holiday for us… a pivotal moment of history.

A moment that marks time itself… BC – Before Christ… AD (Anno Domini that means in the year of the Lord)… every event on our calendar is in reference to that moment… the Birth of Jesus Christ…

“I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people!”

Our shepherds in today’s reading… doing their everyday things… they receive a herald’s call, and announcement of declaration… the Messiah is coming!

9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.

Hear the introduction… God has found favor upon us!!

Good news of great joy…

Good news for all people…

Good news … a savior has been born…

A moment of heralding…

“I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people!”

But not just for them… for all people… these simple shepherds could not have known the magnitude of this moment… the domino effect into eternity itself… Billions who were to come all effected by the words from these Angels… this declaration…

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

Now something happened for the shepherds in this moment…

15 When 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." 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

1. First: Their normal routine was stopped… slowed down… and redirected.

a. 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."

b. Sometimes we can get caught camping out in our own pain, situations, and miss God’s message all together… when the best thing we can do is pursue God and live out His commands…

Like the Story of the Christmas Scout: In spite of the fun and laughter, 13 yr. old Frank Wilson was not happy. It was true, he had received all the presents he wanted, and he enjoyed the traditional Christmas Eve reunions with relatives for the purpose of exchanging gifts and good wishes..........but Frank was not happy because this was his first Christmas without his brother, Steve, who during the year, had been killed by a reckless driver. Frank missed his brother and the close companionship they had together. He said good-bye to his relatives, and explained to his parents that he was leaving a little early to see a friend, and from there he could walk home. Since it was cold outside, Frank put on his new plaid jacket. It was his FAVORITE gift. He placed the other presents on his new sled, then headed out, hoping to find the patrol leader of his Boy Scout troop. Frank always felt understood by him. Tho’ rich in wisdom, his leader lived in the Flats, the section of town where most of the poor lived. His patrol leader did odd jobs to help support his family. To Frank’s disappointment, his friend was not home. As Frank hiked down the street toward home, he caught glimpses of trees and decorations in many of the small houses. Then, thru one front window, he glimpsed a shabby room with limp stockings hanging over an empty fireplace. A woman was seated nearby....weeping. The stockings reminded him of the way he and his brother had always hung theirs side by side. The next morning, they would be bursting with presents. A sudden thought struck Frank--he had not done his "good deed" for the day. Before the impulse passed, he knocked on the door. "Yes?" the sad voice of a woman asked. Seeing his sled full of gifts, and assuming he was making a collection, she said, "I have no food or gifts for you. I have nothing for my own children." "That’s not why I am here," Frank replied. "Please choose whatever presents you would like for your children from the sled." "Why, God bless you!" the amazed woman answered gratefully. She selected some candies, a game, a toy airplane and a puzzle. When she took the Scout flashlight, Frank almost protested. Finally, the stockings were full. "Won’t you tell me your name?" she asked, as Frank was leaving. "Just call me the Christmas Scout," he replied. The visit left Frank touched, and with an unexpected flicker of joy in his heart. He understood that his sorrow wasn’t the only sorrow in the world. Before he left the Flats, he had given away the rest of his gifts. His plaid jacket had gone to a shivering boy. Now, Frank trudged toward home, cold and uneasy. How could he explain to his parents that he had given his presents away? "Where are your presents, son? asked his father as Frank entered the house. "I gave them away," he answered in a small voice. "The airplane from Aunt Susan? Your new coat from Grandma? Your flashlight?? We tho’t you were happy with your gifts." "I was......very happy," Frank said quietly. "But, Frank, how could you be so impulsive?" his mother asked. "How will we explain to the relatives who spent so much time and gave so much love shopping for you?" His father was firm. "You made your choice, Frank. We cannot afford any more presents." With his brother gone, and his family disappointed in him, Frank suddenly felt dreadfully alone. He had not expected a reward for his generosity, for he knew that a good deed always should be its own reward. It would be tarnished otherwise. So he did not want his gifts back. However, he wondered if he would ever again recapture joy in his life. He thought he had this evening....but it had been fleeting. He thought of his brother.....and sobbed himself to sleep. The next morning, he came downstairs to find his parents listening to Christmas music on the radio. Then the announcer spoke: "Merry Christmas, everyone! The nicest Christmas story we have this morning comes from the Flats. A crippled boy down there has a new sled this morning left at his house by an anonymous teenage boy. Another youngster has a fine plaid jacket, and several families report that their children were made happy last night by gifts from a teenage lad who simply called himself the ’Christmas Scout’. No one could identify him, but the children of the Flats claim that the Christmas Scout was a personal representative of old Santa Claus himself. Frank felt his father’s arms go around his shoulders, and he saw his mother smiling thru her tears. "Why didn’t you tell us, son? We didn’t understand. We are so proud of you." The carols came over the air again, filling the room with music--"Praises sing to God the King, and peace on Earth good will to men."

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