Scripture: Luke 2:8-20
Idea: For many, Christmas is not the happiest time of the year. Many run themselves ragged with shopping, mailing Christmas cards, decorating, cooking, and entertaining. Many find it the loneliest time of the year. And still others hate the thought of spending the holidays with family members they don’t like to be around. For far too many, Christmas is not red and green. It is a deep blue.
Story: The first Christmas came to people who struggled with their own depression. The shepherds were in many ways the lost sheep of their time. They were low class. They had no legal or spiritual status. They spent all their time with their sheep. One night while watching their sheep, these simple men shared with each other their hopes and dreams for the coming Messiah, not knowing that the Christ child had been born that very night. Eager to share the glad news, a host of angels swept across the sky with glad tidings in a light and sound show like no other. “Glory to God!” they shouted, “And peace on earth to all whom God favors.”
This is a song that we need for dreary Christmases and dark, depressed lives—it is a song of joy that promises us better things to come. It is a joy that does not depend upon circumstances. It is a joy that is solidly centered in Jesus Christ—our Savior, our Christ, our Lord.
It is a song of peace. In the dark days of the Civil War, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, “And in despair I moved my head: ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said, ‘For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.’” The angels’ song brings with it the promise of peace and joy when evil threatens to plunge its dagger of despair deep into our hearts.
It is a song for the people. All the people. Not just the wealthy, or the power brokers, or the academics with their impressive vitaes. It is a song for all the people, because Jesus’ arms are big enough to take us all in.
It is a song that moves us into action. It moved the shepherds out of their despair and onto their feet as they went to meet Jesus. This same song will also move us to worship and serve.
It is a song that makes us think. The Christmas story tells us that people all across Bethlehem were amazed at the story of the shepherds. This word “amazed” suggests a rather superficial interest, much like that of many today. But the song challenges us to think deeper. To pause. To ponder. To reflect on what it all means.
It is a song that will move us into a personal commitment to Christ. Mary’s Christmas gift was not something she could stuff in the closet or take back to the mall. The gift of her son came with a lifetime commitment to a growing relationship. When Christ is born in our hearts today, we too commit ourselves to a daily, growing relationship with Jesus.
The song ignites an exciting witness for Christ. The shepherds shared the good news everywhere they went. In the same way, it is impossible for us to keep the joy of Christmas to ourselves—we simply must share the good news of Jesus with everyone around.
Submitted by Dan Martella. Better Sermons © 2005-2007. Click here for usage guidelines.