23 12 2019

Christmas is a powerful reminder that what is important in heaven is often unimportant on earth. While the world was sleeping, snoring and snoozing the Son of God made His grand entrance with little to no fanfare. If I was to try to get people to sign up to gather to sing Christmas praise songs in the middle of Cape May Court House on Christmas Eve, something tells me that the clip board would be passed from hand to hand with very few signatures upon it. It would be my guess that most people would choose to do other things they deem more important. Yet when the call went out for the angels to join the heavenly choir on the night that Jesus was born, there wasn’t a celestial being that was even tempted to miss the ministry. When the Bible describes the band of holy crooners as a host, it literally means that there were too many to count. Can you imagine the view the shepherds had as they attended the greatest concert ever held this side of glory? In reality, God brought the big show to them!

Shepherds in a nearby field were showered with an angel song, but what makes it so amazing, was that so many more could have sung along! Caesar Augustus should have been there but he wasn’t. Herod should have been there but he wasn’t. The Religious Pharisees should have been there but they weren’t. Joseph and Mary’s Family should have been there to support the new born baby, but they were too ashamed to even associate with the blacklisted couple. So, who showed up to the birthday party when nobody else could fit Jesus into their busy schedules? The Lord who is our Shepherd made sure that those who had experience tending sheep would get the first glimpse of majesty in the manger.

For four hundred years, God had been silent. There were no prophets, no angels appearing, nothing miraculous occurring in the daily happenings. But on a midnight clear, suddenly now the heavens couldn’t and wouldn’t keep quiet. And the top story came to the people you’d least expect to employ as your messengers of this good news. That is unless of course, you were a shepherd yourself. Public relations professionals get big money working hard at securing opportunities to get their guests in front of millions of eyeballs. I’m sure they would have worked tirelessly to get Jesus on Oprah or Ellen or Dr. Phil or the Wizard of Oz for that matter! When God announced the birth of Jesus to the world, He used the opposite approach. He didn’t send Jesus to 30 Rock but sent the host of heaven to a common field outside Bethlehem. And the people He chose as His spokesmen were unpolished, sweaty, uncouth shepherds. Actually, if you are a student of the Bible, you wouldn’t expect God to do it any other way! I’m so glad God loves the underdogs!

There is something significant and powerful about the inclusion of shepherds in the Jesus story. Luke is reminding us, by mentioning the shepherds, that the kingdom of God isn’t just for the rich and famous and religious bigwigs. Jesus came for those that were on the outside looking in. He came to seek and save the broken, the battered, the defeated and the lost sinners like you and me. If you are ever going to truly celebrate Jesus, which is what the word “Christmas” actually means, you are going to have stop looking in all the wrong places. Maybe we all better start looking in the faces of the least of these that the real Jesus can be discovered with.

I have made my decision to stand by my Savior no matter where He may be found. Jesus invites people of every tongue, tribe, nation and background to follow Him. When you decide to really hang out with the One who was born in that manger 2000 years ago, you might just see some things that you never expected to discover about the Lord of all. While Jesus loathed prostitution, He still loved on the prostitutes. Jesus knew the whole tax collecting system was corrupt and unjust and yet He purposely sought out Matthew and Zacchaeus. His stand was against the sin doing human beings in but He never alienated the very lost sheep that desperately needed to find their way home. God still moves in those mysterious and miraculous ways even today!

People are not the enemy. For too long, today’s church has been playing a game of “Us against Them!” Contrary to popular opinion, we wrestle not against flesh and blood. People are the ones the very Creator of all humanity has called and empowered us to love. Love your family, friends and yes, even love those who are nothing like you. God loved us while we were running the other way! He didn’t wait until we cleaned up our act to come to know Him. He knew we would be powerless to do that on our own! Only God can change a heart! Only God can transform a life! What good is it if all the believers remove themselves and run and hide from the very pool of humanity that Jesus came to die for too? I shudder when we Christians become holier than thou to the point that we forget that without the grace of God, we too would still be wandering around in circles of chaos and confusion too. What good is it if Jesus said He is the way and yet we who represent Him keep blocking the path to get to Him? There is so much joy in Heaven when we earthly shepherds leave behind the 99 already found to fervently seek and lead home the one that got away! Who needs to be pursued by you with the love of God this December?

Christmas is all about a Shepherd who left the comforts of glory to come and find the lost lambs that could not have been rescued any other way! When the shepherds left their flocks that night to go and see what the angels had told them, they discovered that the baby was wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Do you know who else wrapped their babies in cloths and put them to sleep in a feeding trough? The shepherds did, that’s who! When the shepherds saw the Messiah lying in a manger, they related to Him instantly. He was just like them. He was there for them! Maybe this Christmas is the right time to finally get the story straight. We don’t have to become who we are not to be loved by God. God came to love us as we are and then transform us into who we would never be without Him. Could it be that the best Christmas present of all is finding our hope and future in His Presence? So, stop looking around and look up this December 25th and see what too many missed 2000 years ago. God so loved the world that He gave us His one and only Son that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday Jesus.



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