Summary: These shepherds were out in th efields one night when the angel of the Lord appreared to them to announce the birth of the Savior. Let us learn from them.
We have been learning many things from the important characters of the first Christmas story.
It was interesting to see how they received the news regarding the coming of Christ the Messiah in their lives.
In all these things, we see the hand of God at work making sure that they understood that this is part of God's marvelous plan.
On the first message, we talked about the three wise men who traveled from a far away place in search for the baby Jesus, the King of the Jews.
They just followed the star for many years with great perseverance until they arrived to the right place.
There, they worshiped Jesus and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
In coming home, they went through another route to avoid the evil intention of King Herod.
We have learned from them that the wise still seek and worship the Lord.
May we be like these wise men fully seeking Christ regardless of the difficulties they experienced.
Then, last week, we talked about Mary who was pledged to be married to Joseph.
But she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.
After learning about this, Joseph wanted to divorce her secretly so that she would not suffer public disgrace.
But the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and assured him that this is part of God's plan.
That this is in fulfillment of the prophecy regarding a virgin who will give birth to a son.
He will call him Immanuel which means God is with us.
Joseph understood God's plan for salvation and his heart was at peace.
Mary too understood God's plan and recognized that she needed a Savior from her sin.
May we be like Mary and Joseph who fully accepted in their hearts the coming of Christ the King.
Do you know that George Frederick Handel’s great Christmas oratorio, “The Messiah”, was first performed in 1742, in Dublin.
During that time, King George of England attended and supported his first performance.
And this in turn led to one of the most interesting traditions connected to this masterpiece.
When the Hallelujah chorus began to play in the performance the King attended he abruptly stood up, apparently as a way of indicating he recognized that Christ was the King of Kings.
Now it was normal protocol that if the King stood at any time, no one in his presence sat, and so the entire audience stood for the performance of the Hallelujah Chorus.
This tradition has been maintained even until today.
Everywhere you go, whenever the Hallelujah chorus is played, people will stand in order to recognize that Christ is the King of Kings.
Handel could never have anticipated that this work would become perhaps the most performed piece of classical music in all of history, all to the glory of Christ.
We too must recognize that Christ is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
Before we continue our study today, let me first give you some simple truths about Christmas that probably you are not aware of:
1. Do you know that the Puritans (the first Christians who traveled from England to America) at first forbade the singing of some Christmas carols judging them to be out of keeping with the true spirit of Christmas?
They argued that Christmas represented nothing more than "a thin Christian veneer slapped on a pagan celebration."
Believing in the holiday was superstitious at best, heretical at worst.
But after many years, they finally accepted the fact that Christmas carols must be sung in recognition of the birth of Christ.
2. Do you also know that the National Christmas Tree is a large evergreen tree located in the northeast quadrant of the Ellipse near the White House in Washington DC?
Each year, since 1923, the tree has been decorated as a Christmas Tree.
The grand illumination of the Christmas lights on the tree by the President of the United States early in December is an annual event.
Every president since Franklin D. Roosevelt has made formal remarks and lights the tree during the tree lighting ceremony.
3. Do you also know that no one knows the real birthday of the Lord Jesus Christ?
No date is given in the Bible.
So why do we celebrate it on December 25?
Because the first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25 was on 336 A.D., during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine. (He was the first Christian Roman Emperor)
A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th of December.
But no matter what the date is, the most important is that Christ was born to save us from our sins.
And so, today, we will learn more truths about Christmas particularly on the reaction of the Shepherds during that first Christmas.