Summary: Luke shares with us some characteristics that the Shepherds possessed - 1. They were Receptive Listeners 2. They Embraced Obedience 3. They were Enthusiastic in their Praise and 4. They were Public Proclaimers of the Good News
Scripture: Luke 2:15-21
Theme: Year of the Shepherd - New Year
Luke shares with us some characteristics that the Shepherds possessed - 1. They were Receptive Listeners 2. They Embraced Obedience 3. They were Enthusiastic in Praise and 4. They were Public Proclaimers.
Grace and peace from God our Father and from His Son Jesus Christ who came to take away the sin of the world.
Many organizations and businesses give each New Year a particular name or theme. According to the Chinese zodiac calendar this New Year will be the Year of the Rooster. It is suppose to be a year in which the majority of people will be more polite and less stubborn. However, it is also suppose to be a year in which people will have a tendency to complicate things that should be simple.
According to the Jewish Calendar this New Year is not 2017 but instead it is the year 5777 - 5778. For the people of Korea it is the year 4350 and for the people of Iran it is the year 1395-1396. Sometimes, we in the US forget that not all countries have adopted the Gregorian calendar and instead have their own calendar. Some like the Jews and Koreans have calendars that are much older than ours.
Other organizations tell us that this new year will be something more than a date or the year of the rooster.
+The National Garden Bureau has declared that 2017 will be the year of the Rose, Daffodil, Pansy and Brassica.
+Pantone's has declared that 2017 will be the Year of the Color Green.
+The UN must have been listening to the Chinese as they described that 2017 would be the year to complicate the simple as they have declared that the New Year to be the INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF SUSTAINABLE TOURISM FOR DEVELOPMENT. Now, that's a mouthful.
I would like to propose to you this morning an alternative way of looking at this New Year. Rather, than adopting the Chinese Zodiac or the UN declaration for the year, I would like to propose that we call this upcoming New Year the YEAR OF THE SHEPHERD. For as we look at our passage this morning, our shepherd friends display for us some wonderful characteristics to emulate this New Year.
The pastoral scene that Luke paints for us is a very familiar one. A few miles outside of Bethlehem some shepherds had gathered their sheep together for the night. More than likely there are several hundred sheep gathered along with a company of shepherds. It was common for the shepherds of various flocks to join together during the night hours for companionship and protection. Shepherding was tedious and tiresome work. By coming together at night it allowed some of some of the shepherds to be able to get some rest while the others stood watch. Then after a few hours they would get up and watch over the flocks while the others rested.
St. Luke tells us that just when everyone was settling down and getting warm around their fires the skies suddenly opened up. Perhaps, at first they thought a storm was brewing but they quickly realized that this was no storm. It wasn't thunder they heard or lightning they saw but it was God's Holy Angel who began to speak these words to them: (Luke 2:10 - 11 ESV)
"Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the LORD. And this will be a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."
Can you imagine this morning what that was like? Can you imagine after a full day of watching sheep, getting together with some of your friends to get some needed sleep when all of a sudden the sky is filled with one angel and then a host of angels?
It is what happens next that I would like for us to look at this morning. For as we read in verses 15 - 20 we see some wonderful characteristics that these shepherds displayed. Characteristics that I believe that we should emulate this upcoming New Year. Let's take some time and look at four of them:
1. The Shepherds were first of all, RECEPTIVE LISTENERS
In other words the Shepherds genuinely listened. That seems quite simple does it. Of course, they shepherd listened. Who wouldn't listen if all of a sudden an angel appeared? Who wouldn't shut their mouth(s) and listen intently to what an angel from heaven had to say?
Well, if we go back to Genesis chapter 17 we find that when Abraham was visited by three heavenly beings, Sarah, his wife wasn't a receptive listener. She didn't believe one things those angels were saying. She thought their good news was ridiculous.