Friday, December 16, 2011

The Christmas Gift Part Three - The Shepherds: Amazed by the Gift

What gift have talked about the most over the years? If you’re like me, you told all your friends how excited you were about it. Maybe even showed it off to anyone who was interested? Have you reminisced about the day you received the gift and how it was presented?

We women tend to get a little excited about the day our beloved proposes. Even if he doesn’t have the ring then, the way he “presents” his gift of love is a special story we like to tell. We talk about this amazing gift for the rest of our days. It made us feel special, wanted, valued, and unique.

That’s what God did for the shepherds when He sent an angel their way the night of Christ’s birth. Unlike a wedding proposal from someone you’ve dated a while, this was totally unexpected. I’m sure the shepherds felt pretty special and valued – once they got over the shock. No one else would have made sure a bunch of shepherds got the news of the King’s arrival.

What was it that prompted God to send this invitation to the outcasts of society? Shepherds weren’t in town much since they had to constantly care for their flocks, . When they did come, they weren’t allowed to mingle with others or enter the temple for worship, because their work made them unclean (unacceptable according to Jewish law). Not to mention that they didn’t smell very good.

It’s so like God to invite them to the party. Not only did they hear about it, they were the only ones there that night!  Imagine their surprise when they found out no one else knew about this wondrous event. So, after worshiping the Christ child, they told everybody they met about the angels' message and what they had just seen.

They didn’t worry then about being accepted. They didn’t agonize about what people would think of them. They didn’t care whether everyone believed them. They were so excited they had seen angels and bowed at the cradle of the King that they couldn’t hold it in. I bet they talked about it for the rest of their lives.

Can’t you just see these shepherds retelling the story around the campfire at night? I’m sure their children and grandchildren heard about it until they knew it by heart. Every traveler who stopped to rest probably got an earful from these shepherds too.

And of course, when Jesus began His public ministry, they probably tried to go hear Him teach. Most likely they nudged the person next to them and said, “Hey, an angel told us about this guy the day He was born. I got to go see Him. It was amazing! I’ll never forget that night…”  

I’ve had some pretty humbling experiences in my life, but unlike the shepherds, I’ve never been looked down on by society. I feel welcome at church and get to participate in all aspects of worship. Maybe I take that too much for granted.

It's amazing that God himself has invited us to welcome His Son to the world. We have the freedom to come into His presence daily and get to know Him personally. And even though we are sinful and unclean compared to Him. Jesus has opened the door for us to come directly into the presence of God!

“Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!” (2 Corinthians 9:15, Living)

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