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Summary: One of the ways that we can make meaningful connections is by connecting with people who are often overlooked.

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Several years ago there was a game show called, Name That Tune in which contestants competed for cash and prizes by trying to name songs in as few notes as possible. The famous line being of course, I can name that song in one note!

This morning, we are going to briefly play “Name That Person” only there is no cash or prizes to be given away, only the satisfaction of knowing the names of these people. Ready? Here goes.

1. What is the name of the NBA player who recently came out of retirement to play for the Washington Wizards? Michael Jordan

2. What is the name of the recently fired Notre Dame head football coach? Bob Davie

3. What is the name of the primary weather forecaster on channel 15? Sandi Thompson

4. What is the name of the Kendallville Fire Chief? Jim Ebert

5. What is the name of the chief justice of the US Supreme Court? William Rehnquest

6. What were the names of the three wise men that visited Jesus?

7. What were the names of the shepherds visited by the angels the night Jesus was born?

8. What is the name of the janitor at your school, office, or factory?

Several years ago, I received an e-mail entitled, Five Great Lessons. The first of the five lessons learned was this one:

“During my second month of nursing school, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?" Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank.

Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.

"Absolutely," said the professor. "In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say ’hello’." "I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.”

Our advent series is entitled The Christmas Touch (overhead up) (courtesy of Paul Newell of Lakeport, California) of and this morning we are traveling away from busy and cramped Bethlehem to its surrounding countryside to pay a visit to the shepherds tending their flocks and study the story of their encounter with angels who announce a long expected event – the birth of the Messiah, the chosen one of God. As we review this story I want us to do so with the following thought in mind: One of the ways that we can make meaningful connections this holiday season in Christ’s name is by connecting with people who are often overlooked.

This story in Luke 2 is familiar and we will hear it several times this month. But, I want to point out verse 18 “All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished.” Have you ever wondered why the hearers of the shepherd’s story were astonished? Was it only because of the story they told? Or was it because of who told the story of the Messiah’s birth?

Shepherds were considered not reliable. Their testimony, according to one Bible commentator, was not accepted in the courts of that day. It was considered unreliable. Shepherds were considered by the societies of that day as lower class and lacking social correctness. But, God didn’t consider them that way at all.

No, on that night as we have heard once again, God sent the Angels to tell the shepherds the good news, the great news that “The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David.”

Why did God bypass the local news media? Why did he bypass the radio talk show hosts? Why did he bypass the local university? Why did God go outside Bethlehem to the countryside and announce Jesus’ coming? Maybe it was because the shepherds were more open to God than the elite of Bethlehem. Maybe they were more open to God out in the relative quietness of the country instead of the hustle and bustle of the town that we considered last week.

Maybe it was because God knew how much the shepherds cared. They were in a caring profession. If they did not care about their sheep they would not have work. Their job was to care for the sheep.

There is a Christmas song that is played through the holiday season that says something like “Christmas is sharing.” Christmas is also about caring. And speaking of caring, where would you send someone to learn how to care? Some people on the streets of Chicago were asked that question and here is what they said. (Play video segment of Mainstay’s advent videotape).

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