Merry Christmas! May you know the love of God today and always, and may you share that love with everyone, everywhere, every day.
Our Christmas scripture is Luke 2:8-20.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
The shepherds were the least likely people to be invited to the birth of Jesus according to popular opinion of that time. They watched over the dirty, smelly, not so bright sheep, and many thought the same of the shepherds. Why would they receive word from the angels to go to Bethlehem?
Two good reasons, actually – shepherds would become the example Jesus used many times for how He loved and cared for us. He came to save us messed up, often not too bright humans from sin and death, and while comparing us to sheep is a bit unflattering, it is more true than we care to admit. Without the Good Shepherd to watch over us, we would be lost! Second, Jesus came as Lord for all people, but He had a special affinity with the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed. Jesus commanded us to seek the last, the least and the lost, and to care for them as He cared for us.
On this Christmas may we renew our commitment to Jesus as we celebrate His coming among us, and live new lives full of His grace and mercy. Let us be the face of Jesus to those we meet and show them we are true followers by our witness and our love in action. May we joyfully accept the blessing and responsibility Christ brings to us.
Holy Lord, we remember Your birth and pray that You will be born again in us that we may die to sin and live for You. Let us be the sheep of Your pasture, and may we always keep Christmas in our hearts. Amen.