Day 283 | Sunday, 27, December 2020
The assigned Scripture readings for this the first Sunday in Christmastide are: Isaiah 61:10 – 62:3; Psalm 148; Galatians 4:4-7 and Luke 2:22-40.
I am taking a preacher’s prerogative and ignoring the above scriptures and instead will share the birth story from Luke. After all, it is only two days after Christmas.
Luke 2:1-20 Jesus’ birth 2 In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. 2 This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria. 3 Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled. 4 Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea. 5 He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant. 6 While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.
Announcement to shepherds 8 Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night. 9 The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were terrified.10 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. 11 Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. 12 This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, 14 “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.” 15 When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go right now to Bethlehem and see what’s happened. Let’s confirm what the Lord has revealed to us.” 16 They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they reported what they had been told about this child. 18 Everyone who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. 20 The shepherds returned home, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Everything happened just as they had been told.
How would you have like to have been a shepherd out in the fields that night and have an angel come and tell you some wonderful news? First, you would have to get over the shock of an angel appearing to you, a shepherd. Then, you would probably have a debate with the other shepherds about what just happened. Why us? We are pretty low on the list, after all we live with and smell like sheep. Should we go into town? Shepherding was a despised occupation in the eyes of the first-century elite, and the angels’ announcement to shepherds is an example of God choosing to favor the disfavored. Those of you who have or are reading Caste, what do you think about the shepherds?
In 1700, Nahum Tate wrote the words to the carol “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks”
1. “While shepherds watched their flocks by night, all seated on the ground, the angel of the Lord came down, and glory shone around, and glory shone around.”
6. “All glory be to God on high, and to the earth be peace; good will henceforth from heaven to earth begin and never cease, begin and never cease”
Lord, thank you so much for giving us your Son. There are times when we feel like shepherds and long for an angel to bring us good news. May your peace and good will continue to come to us and never cease. Gracious God hear our prayers. Amen.