Christmas Eve, 2018
This is the story we think of most as the “quintessential” Christmas story. And not just because we all hear the voice of Linus speaking these words, as he was explaining to Charlie Brown “what Christmas is all about.” It’s more than that. This is the essence of the story of Jesus’ birth. Christmas is “all about” a baby, born to a peasant family, lying in a manger among the animals. He is the savior of the world! He is “The Word that became flesh.”
How much could those shepherds have known about what was happening. This is like what I said about Mary. Like her, the Shepherds knew something very important was happening! But as I said yesterday, I don’t think they could have begun to fathom it! We talked about them briefly a few weeks ago. I asked you to consider what was to be “the sign unto them.” The “sign unto you.” “You will find a king dressed in royal robes!” “You will find a warrior arrayed in flashing armor!” No. What were they to look for? They were to look for “a baby, wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” That was the one who was “born unto them a savior, who is Christ the Lord!”
Remember a couple of weeks ago, how I tried to paint that as an almost bizarre picture? Well it was a bizarre picture! Lowly shepherds in out in the field at night. Angels from heaven. The Savior of the world. A baby in a stable. Could they even begin to fathom that? I doubt it. I suspect that there was much questioning in their hearts. I’m sure they thought, “What?” “What could this be?” And I’m sure they said it to one another.
But, even in their questioning, even in their inability to comprehend what was happening, still there was wonderment! And that wonderment, that amazement, was enough to compel them to do something! They left the sheep – right there in the field – and they went to seek this baby, wrapped in swaddling cloths, and lying in a manger.
I think wonderment is a big part of Christmas. We feel it, don’t we? The sights, the sounds, the smells! It is the most “wonderful” time of the year! There’s more here than just fact. There’s more here than just a story. There’s more here than just the narrative. There is great wonderment! There is even astonishment! And in all of that, I believe, I hope, we too are compelled to seek for the Christ child.
Think about it! When the angels departed, the shepherds didn’t just sit back down around their campfire and say, “Isn’t that great?!” “The long awaited savior, the Messiah the prophets told about, is finally here!” No, this was mort than just some news they might have heard from a friend. There were angels! There was fear! There was this crazy sounding news about a baby in a manger. It wasn’t just “Isn’t this great?” It wasn’t just “What does this mean?” It was “Let us go!” “Let us see!”
“And that is what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown!” We are compelled to seek the Christ child! We are compelled to set aside the cares of this world – like those shepherds did when they left their sheep in the field. We are compelled to and go and seek the Christ child!
It’s Christmas Eve! It’s Christmas day, somewhere! It will be Christmas here in just hours! We’ve heard again the message of glory sung by all the angels in heaven! Will we feel the wonderment of that? Will we feel the urge to step away from the cares of this world, and strive to seek the child in Bethlehem?
Eternal God, fill our hearts with the wonder and the amazement of this night. Help us to look beyond the cares of this life and hear again the message of the angels. We give you glory as they did, that Jesus Christ is born. We pray in his name, Amen!