Be a Shepherd for Christmas

This is my first post in a while due in part to the craziness that has been going on over the past few weeks. I ambitiously decided to hand make the majority of my gifts this year in an attempt to save some money due to some unexpected expenses that arose this year. This process has prompted me to take a deeper look at what Christmas is really about and remind myself that it’s not important to get caught up in the gifts that you give. The important thing about this time of year is giving with a cheerful heart to help spread the message that God’s gift of grace was presented to us on that first Christmas day (even if that day wasn’t actually December 25th).

The Christmas story is described in the books of Matthew and Luke, but today I’ll be looking at the description from Luke if you’d like to follow along. Jesus had a pretty humble beginning. God’s gift to us came wrapped in ragged cloths, not shiny paper, and in the arms of a (likely) teenage mother lying in a stable because there was no room for them at the inns in town. If that’s not a sign of God humbling Himself and being born into a modest situation, I don’t know what is.

Jesus was born into an average family, not a palace. His parents were common people, not royalty. On that night when he was born, there was no glamour, there were no delicious treats like we have now, and the closest thing to Christmas carols playing would have been the choir of angels singing. For the most part though, the first Christmas was just a baby being born to his mother and father surrounded by the animals in the stable with some shepherds looking on from the nearby fields. It would have been a quite dramatic sight to see when the angel of the Lord arrived, but otherwise there was little by way of glitz, luxury, or anything that we now hold to be important during the holiday season *cough, cough, commercialism* cough, cough*.

Luke 2:10 states that the angel of the Lord appeared and told the shepherds who were in the fields “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” The passage goes on to explain how the shepherds heard the message from the angel and the choir of angels singing and then they decided to go off and find the savior. They found Mary and Joseph with the baby just like the angel had said. The shepherds went out to spread the word about what they’d seen and Luke 18-20 says that “all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

The shepherds understood the gravity of the message that they had received on that first Christmas night. God had sent them a savior! How great is that? Not only did they go in search for him, but after they found him, they went out to spread the word about it! They received that message with cheerful, hopeful hearts and ended up praising and glorifying God in the process!

This Christmas, while you’re sitting around the table trying desperately to avoid answering your nosy aunt’s questions about why you’re not yet married/dating, change the subject. Remind her that you are a beloved child of God. Remind her that Christmas is a holiday, which reminds us of God fulfilling His promises to redeem His beloved children, which is all that really matters in the long run anyway. Ok, I know that practically we may not all be able to lay things out in such a blunt way for certain family members (I know that I have difficulty with this), but I pray that you will at least hold that truth in your heart as you go through the inevitable barrage of questions and comments that people will give you regarding your relationship status. Look for opportune moments where you can gently and humbly encourage others by reminding them that there are more important things than being married or single, rich or poor, old or young. In the end, none of those earthly things matter. What really matters is that God loves us and He has made a way for us to be with Him eternally, because He never wants to let us go!

I hope that over the next couple of weeks, as the year begins to wind down, you will look for ways to cheerfully serve and spread the good news of not just Jesus’s birth, but also of the ways in which God has fulfilled His promises in your life! For many years, prophets had been promising that there would be a savior who would come one day to redeem all of God’s people, and He had finally fulfilled that promise by sending us Jesus that first Christmas. The Christmas story tells us about Jesus’s birth, which gives us the hope of eternal life. When you hear this message and believe in it’s truth, it’s hard not to spread this message to people you know. So go out this Christmas, be a shepherd and remember, there’s always room for more at God’s table.

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