- Luke 2: 8–20
A new King is born! Despite his humble and unusual way of birth in a stable, from the very beginning there is something remarkable about this new life. There are shepherds with their story of choirs of angels, and praises and testimonies from God’s people in the place.
In the birth of Jesus, and the subsequent life he lived, and indeed the death he endured, God spoke a word of love into the experiences of our life and world. God continues to speak this love through the Holy Spirit today. God also speaks into the messiness and reality of human life.
Isaiah introduces us to this God who speaks into creation. The same God who brings us life is the one who comes with a hand of love to take the hand of the people, to liberate them from darkness and from whatever holds people captive.
The prophet reveals that God is not just watching on from a distance but is present in the process of rebirthing. God will give His people the advent of hope, peace, joy, and new love, no matter the cost. Jesus’ role as Saviour was proclaimed before his birth. Jesus is the promised Messiah and Saviour who brings salvation to all people. God works through people like shepherds to accomplish his saving purposes.
God speaks again in the stable of Bethlehem. God’s Incarnation is proclaimed, and God is with us in His divine love and in his humble setting. Jesus’ salvation is intended for all people. May we expect to find God at work in places where people would never think to look, even in a manger.
Shepherding was a lonely occupation in those times, and shepherds tried to keep their sheep from predators’ attack particularly at night. God visited and raised them to witness to his salvation when shepherds counted the sheep constantly, lifted the weak on their shoulders, and created pens where the sheep could sleep.
In today’s text, we can witness a shift from earth’s shepherds enduring a dark night to heaven’s most glorious messenger. With the angel, God’s glory came, and humans obtained opportunities to respond in confession, worship, and praise.
When gazing at God’s glorious angel terrified the shepherds, God tells the shepherds, “Do not be afraid”. Gospel brings joy, not fear. God tells us not to be afraid and gives us His joy. Joy is the inward feeling of happiness and contentment that bursts forth in rejoice and praise. Joy comes not just to shepherds; it comes to all people. In the most unlikely place amid the most unlikely spectators, God brushed aside the world’s fears and provided the world reason for joy. Joy comes from God’s gift, a tiny baby in a manger.
God revealed his glory in brilliance that shepherds could recognize. Angels recognize the worth and weight of God’s presence and praise him for it. People respond and obey in rejoicing and praising. God gains glory in heaven, and people get peace on earth. All this happens because God’s love and grace rest on people.
The shepherds made an immediate decision to go to Bethlehem to see what God had reported to them. They wanted to be part of the work God was doing in his world. They saw God’s work in the face of a baby lying in a manger. God used society’s lowest occupations to begin his work of salvation. May we see God’s work and participate in His work of salvation in our lives even our toughest times.
Seeing the baby Jesus was not enough for the shepherds. They had to share the story. Everyone they met heard from them about angelic visits, heavenly songs of praise, and a trip to a manger to find the baby of God’s glory. They shared what had been told to them about this child. Shepherds found in a manger the Saviour, the Messiah, the Lord himself and shared the gospel. May we tell everyone we meet the good news that God has shared with us.
Today we celebrate the birth of a baby born in a manger. We join our voices with the company of angels and shepherds. Shepherds not just listened but came and shared. They saw what God told them to expect. They proclaimed their findings to all who would listen. They turned back toward their jobs, a new song of praise in their hearts. They returned to the sheep, but what they heard and saw never to be forgotten. May we sing a new song of praise in our hearts.
What God had said, God had done. Jesus’ salvation comes to us through the dedicated lives of the God’s people who choose to serve God in obedience and trust. May we live each day in obedience so God can use us when his time comes. The Birth of Jesus Christ is the most precious gift from God, and God does His highest even through the earth’s lowest. May we all be brightening the dark world with the light of Christ as God’s people and Jesus’ disciples.
Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)