Summary: A Christmas message. Most people have no problem getting up for Christmas but what about the day after? This message is based on Luke 2:20 from what I see as the shepherds return to "normal" after God has broken into their lives.
"It's A Wonder-filled Life"
Luke 2:20 "Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them."
Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" is, by far, my all time favorite Christmas movie. George Bailey finds out that even amid hardships, disappointment and unrealized dreams life can be wonderful when God breaks through. It took a clumsy angel to open his eyes. But once they were opened, George Bailey would never see life the same again.
It took angels from on high to open to the eyes of shepherds, tending to flocks by night. They were taken to the manger where they'd find God's Son wrapped in swaddling cloths. It was an unforgettable & defining night for these night shift workers. Their appearance at this stable has been captured on Hallmark cards and replicated in Nativity sets for all ages.
Luke 2:20 serves as the waning moments of the shepherds time in the spotlight of the history's epic event. Soon the light would fade to black and they would become just a part of the supporting cast in the Advent.
Luke leaves us with the sense that while they may exit the stage, they are not returning to endless nights of a monotonous existence. That their going out is much different than their coming too. That they are renewed with a greater, fuller and much more wonderful life.
Note these three things intimated about the shepherds on the day after their God-moment encounter:
I. The Shepherds' Joy Lasted More Than a Day.
A) Most people are simply caught up in a moment, for a moment!
Plenty of activities, lots of festive music, the smell of pine & baked cookies, the lights, gifts & cards, gathering with friends & family and maybe even fresh fallen snow that blankets the landscape. Perhaps there's a kids Christmas pageant or a candlelit Christmas eve serve to attend. It's easy to get caught up in the moment of Christmas.
But what happens the day after Christmas when your loved ones get back in their cars and head home, and the tree comes down and the Christmas carols cease and the wrapping is taken to the curb with the trash? That's when people suffer the so called Christmas blues. The moment of joy comes and then it's gone.
B) God wants to grant us a lifetime of joys, not just moments.
That's the way it went down for the shepherds. They celebrated the birth of Christ but didn't stop living. They had responsibilities and routines that awaited them. But notice that in their return to the everyday world that still had that special moment in their hearts. It lingered into their day-to-day lives! This is the way it is when we have a profound encounter with God- the moment becomes a way of life.
II. The Shepherds' Joy Wasn't Hindered By Life Circumstances.
A) We must reject the notion that joy is only possible when life improves.
Some people suffer from "destination disease," the belief that when I attain ideal circumstances, then I will find true happiness. If I find the right person, move into that dream home, own that luxury car or get that coveted position at work, then I will be happy. Those people live under the delusion that joy is found when the perfect environment is created.