Good Christmas morning! I am happy to wish you, the Woodland Beach Community Church family and friends, a most wonderful Merry Christmas on behalf of the Board of Trustees.
By now most of us are tired of hearing about how different Christmas is this year. We are tired of the COVID-19, the restrictions and isolation. We are tired of people not obeying the rules and causing untold damage to people in our communities.
But it is with joy in our hearts as we think of the blessings of this Christmas season. The Good News is that a Son has been born, a child destined to provide the most desperate need of men. The Son of God come in the flesh! What a wonderful truth whatever is going on in our lives or in our world!
The story remains a reminder of a truly awesome event. But the birth of this child did not take place in a wonderful or beautiful setting. We are told that after a trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem, which would be long and difficult for a young woman nearing the time to give birth to her first born, the time came for the child to be born. We don’t know if it was a day or so after arrival or longer, but the time came and when it did happen, they were out in an animal shelter of some type. Not the ideal situation!
Not only was there no room for them in the inn, there apparently was no midwife in attendance. We are told that Mary herself attended to the little one, dressing him in the usual cloths in which newborn were wrapped. And then she placed this little one, so precious, of whom the angel had given such wonderful prophecies, in an animal food trough.
And in this unusual moment all glory broke out in the heavens. It overflowed into the skies outside the town of Bethlehem. Angels, imagine it, angels full of wonder and praise sang the glories of the little one lying in that manger. Unobserved by the people of Bethlehem, a wonderful world changing event took place right in their town. And we remember that it was to shepherds out in the field watching their flocks that the angel and then the angel chorus made the announcement. Not to the elite did the message come, neither governor or high priest, neither scribes nor teachers, heard the Good News.
How unthinkable! Shepherds? They were the recipients of the angel message. They were the first seekers after Jesus. And then they were the first witnesses of Jesus to everybody they met the next morning. I love it. God’s hierarchy is so different to ours. That is something else we should celebrate. What a story they had to tell! And 30 years or so later it was people just like them that flocked to hear Jesus teach. And it is still true today!
The astonished shepherds listened as the word was declared, “Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger”. All heaven broke out in praise! When things quieted down the shepherds all had the same idea, “Let’s go and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about”.
I have heard some people wondering about the poor shepherd that was left behind to care for the sheep. I don’t think anyone was left behind. The occasion was too important to have any one left behind. They went and looked for the baby and found him with Joseph and Mary and there he was, lying in the manger. That’s what the angel said they would find. Strange as it seems, it was the manger that was the key. How unexpected would that be? The Saviour, the Messiah, the Lord in a feeding trough?
And they never stopped talking about that night. As morning came, they let everyone know about the angels, the message, the baby, his parents and who the baby was. “We have seen the Messiah, the Lord, with our own eyes, a little baby boy lying in a manger.”
They repeatedly told everyone who would listen, what the angel had told them about this child. Everyone who heard them were amazed. Mary was reassured by this message and treasured everything the shepherds told her as a sign from God. What an amazing confirmation of what Gabriel had told her on the day she accepted the role as the mother of the Messiah! It was all so new to her; maybe it was not what she had expected, but she knew that God was keeping his promise. And the shepherds returned to the hills, full of praise to God for all that they had heard and seen. They continually glorified God. Think about how much fun it would be to eavesdrop on their conversations that day!
How about you and me? How are we responding to this amazing story? It is not a fairy tale or some magical dream. It is true. And even today in a world stuck in a deplorable and desperate situation, it is due cause for praise and for glorifying God. It should stir us to treasure these truths forever.
May you have a merry Christmas and happily live out the truths of this day. Everything we have heard has happened just as the angels said. Our Saviour and Lord is among us just as God promised. And even during tough times like this year, it is still an absolutely amazing cause for joy and peace to be lived out in a life of praise because our Saviour is with us. My prayer for you is that you will deeply experience His presence and have a truly blessed Christmas!