Christmas is for “Nobodies” (like us)

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” – Luke 2:8-14

Think about this scene.  It was night, & the shepherds were in the fields, watching their flocks.  Not a very details description… or is it?

It was night, in more ways than one.  Consider this: the darkest a room can get is that moment immediately before a match is struck and a candle lit.  And the light was coming into the world.  I know we think of Christmas as a joyous time – we’ve likely already sung at least two songs about that joy this morning because it’s that season – but remember this: the God of the universe didn’t set aside His power and “put skin on”, to spend 33 years in a dirty, what would now be considered  “third world nation”, teach a bunch of failures – quite literally – who He was & what He was about, to have them completely miss the point, as He Himself is betrayed by one of his own, captured, and murdered in the most gruesome method known to man.  Jesus didn’t come to Earth because things were hunky-dory – He came as a light to the world because things were so BLEAK.

And we’re discussing shepherds: shepherds were the true Blue Collar workers of their day… because they were nomadic – they roamed with their flock, and theirs was a role in which it was impossible to take a “Sabbath”, as the religious of their day understood it, they were politically and socially powerless, and for the most part – in Jesus day – “invisible”.  Non-People.  Nobodies.

Lastly, their flocks were there.  Sheep.  Stupid creatures who’s greatest risk isn’t WOLVES, but themselves, because they’ll set their eyes to the ground and eat and walk until they have absolutely no idea where they are, and are subject to all sorts of dangers.  Death by distraction: that’s what kills sheep.  Interestingly enough, “sheep” is the Bible’s most common symbol representing man: and death by distraction – that sounds like a very familiar way to go.

This is the scene the angels choose to share their message unto: INTO THE DARKNESS, FOR THE NOBODIES, WHOSE GREATEST ENEMY IS DISTRACTION.

Not to the Kings – not to the Spiritual heavy-weights, the angel makes an announcement fit for Kings.

ANNOUNCING THE TRUE KING – that’s what the Gospel meant in Jesus’ day – it was the proclamation that a new King – a better King – had come… and these angels were proclaiming that the greatest King was now here, King Jesus.  Because this wasn’t necessarily great news for the status quo, but for the downtrodden, the broken, the blue collar, disenfranchised nothings of the world, this was GREAT NEWS, because Jesus’ kingdom was like none before and none that would come after.  Jesus’ story is THE Gospel – the greatest good news.

And then, verse 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 among those with whom he is pleased!

The veil is torn between here and there – the curtain pulled back between this world and the next – the shepherd got a peak into the heavenly realms, and a multitude of angels… not cute, chubby little babies with wings – hear me: every time an angel is described in the Bible, he is a HUGE being of great strength and power, with 6 wings – there was nothing “cute” about them… and here we have multitudes – innumerable, uncountable – of heavenly beings worshiping God out of the overflow of who they are and who God is: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace among those with whom he is pleased!

Peace… friends, we have a far too tiny picture of “peace”.  We hold up the peace sign to one another, a near meaningless gesture, not unlike that partial nod that barely acknowledges that someone else exists… and don’t get me wrong, real peace – an international, worldwide ceasefire, would be a big step – a real sight to see.  But that’s not God’s peace.
In Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament, the word we loosely translate as “peace” is “SHALOM”, and yes – it does mean PEACE, but in the hugest way imaginable: yes, it means no wars, but it also means no violence whatsoever, and no anger in our hearts that leads to such violence… it means provision for all, and healing for broken relationship… it means health for the sick, and a right mind for the confused… it QUITE LITERALLY MEANS “the undoing of ALL that is wrong with the world.”  I means, “Your Kingdom come” – it is the Gospel, the coming of the GREATEST King.  This peace is what Jesus has brought, & is bringing…

This season we often sing “Joy to the World”. Interestingly, the song is actually originally penned about Jesus’ SECOND COMING, not his birth. Even then, maybe it’s still appropriate. John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard church movement, used to say that the Kingdom was “Now, & not yet” – that, at Jesus birth, the King was inaugurated… but at His 2nd coming, His Kingdom will be fully realized.  That’s to say, NOW, as we choose to follow this King, we can get a FORETASTE of this coming Kingdom, right here in our hearts.  We can choose peace – we can experience God’s goodness, & respond out of overflow in WORSHIP.  But there’s more to come.

And out of that promise – out of that hope – having TASTED that The Lord is Good, & using our SANCTIFIED IMAGINATION to imagine the GREATNESS of what is to come, we RESPOND, like the angels in heaven… not out of obligation, but out of the overflow of Hearts in LOVE with a great big God who is fulfilling His promises, and will, ultimately fulfill them IN FULL.
“GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST!”  When we sing, let our singing be a response to who He IS, what He has DONE, what He is DOING, & what He promises He WILL DO… feel His SMILE – He is WELL PLEASED with us, in Christ.  Let our hearts overflow with gratitude this Winter for God’s great gift to us: Jesus.

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