There are many sights and sounds of the season that remind us that Christmas is drawing near. I love to listen to good Christmas music because it gets me into the spirit of the season. I especially love the Christmas hymns that we will be singing as we gather to celebrate the first coming of Christ to earth. There is the familiar offering kettle with bell ringer from the Salvation Army that can be found at the doors of department stores collecting money for those in need. There will be numerous Christmas parades that travel slowly down the streets of towns and cities throughout the United States of America. There is the ever familiar, “Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas!” from Santa Claus as he makes his list and checks it twice before setting out on his global quest to deliver gifts to children around the world. Christians will gather on Christmas eve and day around the world to celebrate and worship the second person of the Trinity taking on flesh to be our Lord and Savior. Before long, the sights and sounds of Christmas will be all around us. They were also all around a group of shepherds who were watching over their flocks in the stillness of a Middle East night some 2000 years ago. We find this account in Luke 2:8-20:
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. (NKJV)
What the shepherds thought would be a routine night looking after the flock, turned into something very different and exciting. We never know what God has in store for us do we! What were the sights and sounds the shepherds observed? They SAW an angel of the Lord, the bright shining glory of the Lord, a multitude of heavenly host praising God, and finally a baby lying in a manger. They HEARD the angel say that they should not be afraid, but instead should be joyful, because the Lord and Savior of the world would be born in the city of David, Bethlehem. They also heard the angelic choir belt out with all of their glorious might, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” After the shepherds had SEEN and HEARD, they RESPONDED, by “glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them”. You see, the sights and sounds of that first Christmas required a response on the part of the shepherds. They also require a response from us.
We as God’s people have come to see and know the glory of God which is found in the face of Jesus Christ. We have heard the accounts of the baby lying in a manger, the Savior raised high upon the cross, the mighty Lord raised victorious from the dead, and the conquering King of Kings and Lord of Lords who is preparing to return to earth. These glorious visions of Christ require a response on our part. Might I suggest that our response should be that of the shepherds, which is to glorify and praise the God who has done mighty and wonderful things on our behalf? Would we also offer up our bodies as living sacrifices in service to our King until the day we see Him face to face?
May the glory and splendor of that first Christmas be enjoyed by you and your families this most blessed and sacred holiday Season. Enjoy the gifts, food, family, and friends, but don’t forget that Jesus is truly the reason for the season.
Merry Christmas Everyone,