Pastor Terry Inman
Unplug the lights. Discard the tree. Pick up the wrapping. Store the décor. Toss the leftovers. Say goodbye to the in-laws. Return the wrong sizes or package them up for next years re-gifting. It’s post-Christmas Unplugged!
We were putting away our beautiful pearl white ceramic manger scene and discovered that our shepherds were still in their boxes. We made it all the way through Christmas with no shepherds and nobody even noticed!
Post Christmas can be a bit of a let down or it can be a time to look up! The first Christmas was totally unplugged but there was plenty of joy before during and after. I love the last lines of the shepherd’s story.
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.
Luke also includes a brief comment on Mary’s after Christmas thoughts.
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. Luke 2.17-20 (NIV)
There are three things we can learn from these simple shepherds about re-entry from the holiday to every-day! They encountered Jesus, they shared their story and they went back to work. (changed)
First, They encountered Jesus. Luke says, “When they had seen him, they spread the word. Then he added, “they returned glorifying and praising God for what they had heard and seen.”
These shepherds did not miss out on Christmas. They were among the first to encounter the living Lord Jesus Christ. For hundreds of years God’s people had been waiting and watching for the fulfillment of the Immanuel prophesies. The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
(Is. 7.14 NIV) “God with us”
Most of humanity would have been looking for the Messiah to arrive in a Temple or a Palace but shepherds would feel right at home in a manger.
Jesus was only a newborn but they knew they had encountered Christ.
One look and they were radically changed. They were still shepherds but now they had an exciting story. Their life would never be the same.
It would be tragic if we went through the whole Christmas season without really “seeing” or encountering Jesus. It’s so easy to “put away” Christmas till next year. Box Jesus up with Santa and store it all away-- after all life is not really about holidays it’s about workdays.
Jesus was born for everyday not for a holiday. He was born to die so we could live. He is Immanuel--God with us for here and now and hereafter!
Did you encounter Jesus this season? Did you see? Did you hear? Did you feel? Immanuel---God with us. How will your encounter change you?
Next, they shared their story.According to Luke,They told everyone they met what the angels told them about this infant King.
Shepherds In those days would have been typically withdrawn and backward. They were not highly regarded. They definitely were not public speakers. If they did have something to say it wouldn’t be that significant.
But Luke says that everyone who heard the shepherd’s story were very impressed. The bible says, “They were amazed”! They admired or marveled at the wonder of it all.
What’s our story? It’s so easy to think, nobody wants to hear it or it’s just not dramatic enough. We all have an awesome story--an amazing story to share—“amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me, I once was blind but now I see!”
Luke interjects a brief comment about Mary’s response before he wraps the shepherds segment. “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (v.19) Because of its placement right here in the middle of the shepherds story, it’s very likely that the Mary was the first to hear the shepherds incredible account of the angel appearances.
It could have gone something like this. Excuse us please mam but we’ve seen a lot of things out here at night looking after sheep but this full-size angel gave us the heebe-geebees. We woke up in some strange glow. He told us there was nothing to be afraid of. He said he had some very good--very joyful news for everyone, everywhere, even people like us!
“Go over there, to Bethlehem, King David’s village, and you find a baby, the savior, the Messiah, the Master all bundled up in a sheep shelter.”
“Then the whole night sky opened before our very eyes, with an army of angels shouting God’s praises. Never heard or seen anything like it before. They sang something like ‘all glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to all the people down here on earth that God is pleased with.’”
“Just like that the lights went out--poof they were all gone! We were in an awful daze but we got our wits about us, talked it over and got here as fast as we could to see for ourselves this shocking thing God showed us!”
So according to Luke, Mary who months earlier had her own angelic encounter “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart”. So the first person to be amazed by the shepherd’s story was the mother of Jesus! You never know whom you might be telling your story too!
Mary held what she heard close to her heart. She “treasured” or cherished and “pondered” or contemplated all these things. That’s the best way to prepare for sharing our story. Treasure up, value, hold close to your heart God’s story in our life. Contemplate, consider and imagine what God has done and how you might share it.
You’ve heard me quote Peter’s advice before. “In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1Pet. 3.15 (NIV)
The shepherds encountered Jesus and they shared their story. Then they simply went back to work. They went back to what they were doing before the incredible encounter. But they returned in an altered state! They were still simple shepherds but they would never be the same.
Luke says they returned to their occupation as excited God worshipers!
These quite sheepherders let loose glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It all turned out exactly the way they’d been told!
There is a good reason why God choose to reveal His amazing plan of redemption to these common, marginalized night watchmen. They were just the kind of people God uses, simple, hard working, humble and responsive. One God encounter and they were ready to tell their story.
They were the first and they wouldn’t be the last to become enthusiastic worshipers of Jesus. What was so transforming---they had a prophetic encounter with heaven that was confirmed by their experience on earth.
Again Luke concludes with this… The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2.20 (NIV)
“Glorifying” and “praising” here means esteeming, honoring or magnifying God. God is so good to reveal himself to anyone who seeks to know him.
He even goes way out of his way to make himself known even when we are not seeking him. You may not see and hear angels. Too me the greatest part of this story is that God meets us right where we are in life.
Rom. 2.4 in the Message says, “God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.”
Shepherds meet Jesus in a stack of hay. They excitedly share their story with everyone they meet and then take him in their hearts back to work.
They are God worshipers. Worshipers are unplugged. They are uncomplicated, unblocked, cleared, cleaned, and freed! Worshipers are undone people who encounter Jesus! They tell everyone about him and return joyfully and worshipfully back to their day job!
Today we can encounter Jesus. We may not see anything or feel anything. But he will reveal himself to us. Let’s talk to him right now.