Last night on Christmas Eve, we spoke of God reaching the unreachable through His Son Jesus.
Jesus the much awaited Messiah and Saviour whose birth was not broadcast to the religious elite, but to shepherds who were not welcome in the synagogue because of their inability to keep the meticulous ceremonial rules and regulations. Shepherds seen as way down the pecking order of society and of questionable character: and they are the ones called to a stable where the future of the world lays.
And their response? Luke 2, verse 20: “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard”.
Such a great picture of God the Father, giving himself to Save the World and giving His only Son to such a humble earthly beginning to walk this earth among sinners and The Holy Spirit who comes to these Shepherds and they believe, and then testify to those they meet of what has happened.
It’s a great picture because it shows what God has done and what can happen when Jesus comes into the lives of those such as these shepherds wandering in the wilderness.
And a great picture of their response. The same response we hear each week in the preface each week before Holy Communion where we state similiar:
That “It is indeed right and good, Lord God, holy Father, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. You have revealed your glorious presence to us in a new way through the mystery of the Word made flesh,
so that as we see you in your Son, we are drawn to love you whom we cannot see. And so, with angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven,
We say these words together in worship each Sunday. Words of praise said by a group of people some 2,000 years ago, that though society had not changed its view about them, they had: and took a leap of faith as they gave witness to what had happened in that stable to people they met, as they continued in their employment as shepherds.
A great picture that we take with us as we enter this New Year as we too like a group of shepherds have seen and heard the truth of Christ. Not a picture of lecturing to do this and that, but the picture of change coming simply from His coming to us, like he did as a little baby to that group of men.
A group of men while wandering the country side in their occupation came to see and know the truth. And though after, they still wandered the country side as fitting the role of a shepherd, they now did not need to wonder.
Though these people still had the same job, probably still looked down upon by society and not welcomed by the religious elite, they were now free to be so in the freeing truth of Jesus Christ their saviour.
Jesus Christ our Saviour who has freed us with the truth. The truth that we need not be something we’re not. The truth that in ourselves that we are no better a person than when we met Him. But the truth that in Him has come forgiveness, redemption, life and freedom.
At the end of the American civil war, after being given their freedom, many of the slaves response to their once were slave masters was that “now I’m free, I’ll work even harder, but now as a free person”.
That is the freedom that Christ brought to this world. The freedom from having to, to the freedom of wanting too.
The freedom from the rules and regulations that if not adhered to kept people from the temple, to the freedom that in knowing that in Him alone is forgiveness and salvation comes the freedom to worship Him at Church, at home, at work without need for false fronts or bravado.
A pastor being questioned upon considering leaving the ministry replied, “I don’t need to be a pastor to serve God. I can serve him back home on the farm, in the shops and among the community”.
That is the freedom Christ has brought us that we take with us into this New Year.
The freedom that with our eyes set on Christ allows us to dream and achieve, or dream and fail.
To work and be rewarded or work only to be scorned. To befriend our neighbour though it may not be reciprocal. To forgive others without return and to help the helpless.
With your eyes on Christ and living in His grace your world is different and in Him so are you, because you know the truth: that in Christ and in trusting in His forgiveness you are saved and given eternal life, as you are.
And though you may still wander, you need not wonder because as He has gone before us and awaits to greet us in our heavenly homes, he goes with you now by your side, hurting when you’re hurt and Joyful when you’re in joy.
So again, I pray you have a blessed Christmas and New Year and achieve all that you set out for, and achieve all that He sets before you. Amen.