Summary: God’s gift fits the needs of the Workers (shepherds) the Weary (Simeon) and the Wanderers (Wise Men). This sermon was given in 3 parts with songs in between.
Christmas - God’s Gift
to the Workers, the Weary, and the Wanderers
PART 1: God’s Gift to the Workers – The Shepherds
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. Luke 2:8 When we hear those words at Christmas, we feel a sense of anticipation --- because we know what’s coming next. But if you stop right there at verse 8, you realize that … at that point … there was nothing exciting about it to those Shepherds.
“There were shepherds keeping watch over their sheep…” You could have made that exact statement the night before --- or the week before --- or a month before --- or a year before --- or even a hundred years before that night. You see, Bethlehem was a Shepherding Community. It was what you could think of as a “Blue Collar Town.”
Most small towns today (at least the ones that survive) have some sort of Industry that supports the town and gives it a reason for existing. My in-laws recently moved from their hometown of Dalhart, Texas --- population 6,000. Dalhart survives because of Feed Lots, Dairy Farms, and a new Prison. Susan’s parents got a good price for their home because a new industry (a Cheese Factory) is about to move into town.
Bethlehem survived because of the Shepherding business. These Bethlehem Shepherds were just your average, everyday working folks. It’s likely that they were raising Passover Lambs. These Lambs would be sold as Passover Sacrifices the following Spring. The Shepherds had no way of knowing that the Lamb of God had been born right in their home town that night. When you think of it that way, it’s ironic that His coming would eventually make their job obsolete.
I don’t think these Shepherds were expecting anything momentous to happen that night. They had no idea that the God of the Universe was about to announce the greatest Gift ever given to mankind. They didn’t understand that God wanted to give this amazing, miraculous Gift to them … to plain old working folks who were just living their mundane, day-to-day lives. As it turns out, they expected too little.
Some of us make the same mistake. We don’t understand how MUCH God wants to give us. We expect too little. Which reminds me of a story I heard about the British Ambassador a few years back.
It seems that a Washington, D.C. TV reporter was working on an assignment called “The Spirit of Christmas.” He telephoned the British Embassy and asked to speak to the British ambassador.
“Ambassador,” the reporter said, “You have been very helpful to us through the year and we would like to include you in a special Christmas news segment we’re going to run. Tell me, what would you like for Christmas?”
The ambassador gave his standard reply: “I am very touched by your offer, but I must decline to accept any gift.”
The reporter replied, “Won’t you please help us out again as you have in the past --- and tell me what you would most like for Christmas?”
Again the Ambassador refused, but the Reporter persisted --- and he finally gave in. “All right then, if you insist. This Christmas I would really like the jar of mint jelly.”
Well, the Ambassador forgot all about that conversation, so he was surprised on Christmas Eve when he turned on the Evening News and heard the same reporter saying: “We recently interviewed three visiting ambassadors for our special report on “The Spirit of Christmas.” We asked each Ambassador what they would like for Christmas. These three Diplomats each gave revealing answers when they pondered what they would most like during this Christmas season of goodwill.
The German ambassador said: “I would like to see a peaceful and prosperous decade ahead for the newly liberated German people, and all citizens of the planet. May God bless us all during this historic period of change.”
The Swiss ambassador gave this wish: “May the Spirit of Christmas last throughout the year. It is my dream that our world leaders will be guided toward a common goal of peaceful coexistence during this Christmas season.”
Lastly, we spoke with the British ambassador --- who gave this request: “I would really like a jar of mint jelly.”
Are you asking too little? God has offered every one of us an amazing Gift --- the Gift of Peace and Salvation; the Gift of Complete Forgiveness and a Close Relationship with Him. But some of us are satisfied with nothing more than a jar of mint jelly.
Like the Shepherds were 2,000 years ago, we spend most of our time in our work-a-day routine. But this morning all of you have taken time away from the routine.