Summary: Alerted that something was happening by the words of an angelic host, the shepherds hurry to see their savior. While everyone else slept, the shepherds beheld the powerful work of God. Like the shepherds, Christians, with the eyes fo faith, see God's pres
Luke 2:15-21 “While the World Slept”
Before the advent of Facebook, a couple would announce the birth of their child by sending small “It’s a boy!” “It’s a girl!” cards to their friends and family. The couple didn’t want the world to know about their blessing. They didn’t take out an ad in the newspaper to announcement what happened. Rather, they wanted the people who knew them and loved them to celebrate and rejoice with them.
Those who received these birth announcements were the people we included in our group of family and friends. As we read this Sunday’s lesson, and compare our actions with God’s actions, we are struck by the all-inclusiveness of God’s announcement of the birth of his son.
A KING’S BIRTH
When a king is born, all the world knows. The news is heralded by trumpets, pictures, newspaper articles and evening news coverage. I’m sure when Kate and Will conceive an heir to the throne, we will be treated to nine months of moment by moment coverage and intimate details of the pregnancy and birth.
This is quite different in Luke’s record of Jesus’s birth. Certainly, Jesus’ birth was announced by a host of angels, but the announcement was given to the lowliest of the lowlies—shepherds. The significance of this action may be lost on us as we envision the shepherd figurines included in all of the nativity scenes. God’s actions were shocking, however. They were a blazon affront to the power structure and value structure of Jewish society and the Roman world.
Everyone was symbolically included in the announcement of Jesus’ birth. The message is clear, and it needs repeating—everyone is in and no one is out. God so loved the world—the entire world and everyone in it—that he gave his son. Jesus was born for you and for me.
THE SHEPHERD’S RESPONSE
The shepherds did not stay in the fields and watch their sheep. They left their cozy campfire and late night stories and headed off to Bethlehem. “Let us go and see,” they said.
God’s announcements are invitations for us to draw near to God and to experience him more fully in our lives. Christianity is an experiential faith. Certainly, doctrine and dogma can be taught and followers of Jesus can state that we believe in these truths. But there is more to faith than that. Faith is experiencing God’s love and walking in its reality every day of our lives.
The shepherds accepted the invitation of the angels. They went to Bethlehem. They beheld the Christ child and knelt at the manger. The shepherds saw that what the angels had said was true. Looking at the baby, they knew that they were seeing their savior.
SHARING THE MESSAGE
The shepherds did not quietly leave and go back to their flocks, after they found Jesus. They shared what they had seen and heard with Mary and Joseph and I expect with everyone that they came into contact with that night.
The shepherd’s message was simple. They told others what they had seen and heard. They related their experience with the angel and the hosts of heaven, and relayed what the angel had told them. They didn’t attempt to draw any great theological truths from what they experienced.
Our calling as disciples of Jesus is similar to the shepherds. We are given the privilege of sharing how God has moved in our lives, and the difference God’s presence in our lives has made. We are able to share the good news of our savior’s birth—his birth for the entire world.
The shepherds eventually left and returned to their folks, but their lives were forever changed. Now, they were able to glorify and praise God.
May the shepherd’s story be ours this New Year of 2012. May we rejoice that Jesus has come for all people. And, may we accept the invitation to experience the Christ child personally, and share our experience with those we encounter on our journey through life.