Summary: This is the third an Advent Series. We allow God to touch through us when we see His glory in others and allow His glory to shine through us. The shepherds are the characters addressed
Advent – Week Two (Honoring the Overlooked)
Intro: “Flea market finds”, Terrie and I always get a kick out of watching home improvement shows on TV in the evening – probably because we enjoy watching people take what appears to be ordinary and turn it into something extra-ordinary. I especially like what are often called “flea-market finds”. What was someone else’s junk turns out to be a valuable treasure. The old corroded, tarnished jug is polished and revealed to be a priceless antique urn.
I wonder how many of you are often glued to the “Antique Road Show” waiting to see if something like you own shows up and your son’s college education is just paid for!
When something common is exposed as something glorious we are all amazed.
Trans: I believe that’s what happened that first Christmas night. Heaven was revealed in all its glory in the form of what appeared to be a common baby. But beyond the Christ child in the manger I believe the glory of the common was exposed in some other characters in our story. Read with me Luke’s account of that first Christmas night…
8That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, 10but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! 11The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!” 13Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God: 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors.” 15When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Come on, let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20The shepherds went back to their fields and flocks, glorifying and praising God for what the angels had told them, and because they had seen the child, just as the angel had said.
“Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to all whom God favors”
At that moment in time God’s glory was revealed powerfully to a very tarnished world…
As we observe our second week of Advent: The Christmas Touch, today’s theme and this week’s challenge is to Honor the Overlooked.
I doubt there was any more overlooked than the shepherds that night in the hills outside Bethlehem. Shepherds were not what you would call the social elite; on the contrary, they were the forgotten, overlooked.
No father in Israel dreamed of his daughter marrying a sheepherder; maybe a sheep owner, but not the servants who tended the sheep. They were probably a rough lot – we know of one shepherd who killed a bear and a lion with little more than his hands and a sling-shot – they were a tough lot! These guys slept out in the cold – among the animals. When they came to town on market days it was probably difficult to smell the difference between the sheep and the sheepherder!
On top of that we can speculate that they were not the most refined of men either. There wasn’t much to look at. You didn’t go out of your way to get to know a shepherd. I doubt anyone aspired to be a shepherd.
Think of that first Christmas in Bethlehem. There were lots of people the angel army could have announced Christ’s birth to: elite Roman officials in town for the census, well-traveled caravans staying at the inn, how about the mayor of Bethlehem (he was a pretty high official in the community)? Why did the angels pass by all the crowded homes and inns and make their way to a dark, cold hillside filled with sheep and a few shepherds to make Jesus’ first birth announcement?
I personally think it comes down to what I call untarnished glory. Maybe they weren’t a flea market find – but they were a sheep market find! You see in the midst of this incredible story of God coming in human form to meet man’s deepest need – in the midst of the incarnation (God taking on a human body), God revealing His glory…