Summary: If you are not saved yet, you need to come and see the Savior. If you are saved, it’s time to leave and share the Savior with others.
Rev. Brian Bill
December 22-23, 2018
I came across a report out of Ludington, Michigan describing how a church just unveiled its new Sleep Number seating for congregants, becoming the first church in the nation to offer personalized, adjustable sleep options for members. Here’s part of the article…
While many churches force you to try to get comfortable on a hard pew or chair, this church wants to revolutionize the way you sleep during a service. Attendees entering the building will be handed their own wireless remote.
“Finally, you can adjust your pew to the optimal level of resistance and incline for conking out during the pastor’s message,” said a deacon as he demonstrated his favorite Sleep Number in the back row.
“Oh yeah, right there—that’s perfect,” he muttered as he drifted off to sleep.
Ushers will also make a circuit around the room passing out blindfolds and earplugs, in case the sermon is too distracting.
Several people tagged me in this post. I’m not quite sure what to make of that. Before you put in your request for one of these seats in our renovated sanctuary, I should tell you this is satire from the Babylon Bee. I know that’s disappointing to some of you.
Some of us are so comfortable with the Christmas account it makes us a bit sleepy. Because our culture has sentimentalized this season, it’s easy to skim along on a superficial level, stressing about all the things to do, while neglecting the Nativity. It reminds me of the little girl who misquoted John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only forgotten Son.”
Has Christmas become too predictable, too familiar, too forgotten? Have you heard the Christmas narrative so much it no longer astonishes you? Actually, this can be a dangerous time of the year for us. Our annual celebration of Christmas can immunize us to its reality. We hear just enough about the events to inoculate us against the real thing, so we never really catch true Christmas fever.
I find it extremely interesting God chose to send the birth announcement about His Son in the middle of the night to some shepherds. They might have been sleepy but they were not asleep.
Throughout Israel’s, shepherding was a noble profession. Abel was the first to have this job, followed by Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and David. God calls Himself a shepherd and we’re compared to sheep, which is anything but a compliment. By the time we come to the first century, shepherding has lost its luster. Shepherds made up the lowest class of people, coming in just ahead of lepers. The Talmud, which is a collection of interpretations from the rabbis, says this: “No help is to be given to heathen or shepherds.”
In order to understand how unusual it was to have the angels make an appearance to these simple shepherds, let’s learn a bit about them:
• Considered ceremonially unclean. Because of the nature of their work they were unable to attend any religious services.
• Isolated and forgotten. Because their flocks needed to move around to find new grass and fresh water, they never stayed in one place for long.
• Treated with contempt and mistrust. They were often suspected of stealing from others. Their testimony was never allowed in court because they were so unreliable.
• Known to be brash and bold. Living out in the fields away from society made them unappealing to most people. Most had foul mouths and were accustomed to fighting.
God entrusted the greatest message ever sent from heaven to a bunch of smelly shepherds. Actually, that isn’t so unusual, is it? God has always worked wonders for the little, the least and the lost. If you were to read through Luke’s entire narrative you would see he emphasizes how Jesus came for the marginalized, the poor, the forgotten and the outcasts.
Last week we established this truth: God moves us through a specific process so we can make spiritual progress. We unpacked the specific process Mary went through which led her to make spiritual progress – we looked at the facts of her life, the fear in her heart, the fascination in her mind, the faith of her will and the focus of her words.
The shepherds also went through a process. I see five steps they took.
1. Worked faithfully. The first thing we see about these shepherds is they were attentive to their jobs. Listen to Luke 2:8: “And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” They were so committed to their career they never left their jobs. They not only worked the third shift, they pulled the first and second as well. This was a 24/7 deal for them.