This might be a good word to describe advent and the stories that lead us to Jesus’ birth. God is calling out to people in Luke’s first few stories, hoping they respond, getting people ready to see Jesus for the first time. As he speaks, we can almost hear them saying…Hello?
We stole the title of this old Christmas song for the title of our advent series.
(Check out our recaps for what we’ve already said about the song.)
This song is most definitely a song about peace, and the longing for it.
If you take a closer look, you will see a beautiful step by step theme to this song. Every verse asks a question, and in every verse we’re given a response:
Do you see what I see? A STAR
Do you hear what I hear? A SONG
Do you know? A BABY
Will you Listen? THE CHILD
Slowly, but surely, the writer guides us, like a good advent tour guide, to Jesus, the child, who you should know, and listen to, as he is the Prince of this Peace – and peace is so coveted by the world.
– – – – – – –
Do you hear…what…who…I hear?
Whoever has access to your ear, has access to your life.
First HELLO? Zechariah…
Second HELLO? Mary…
Mary and Zechariah’s stories are lead ups to Jesus birth. The Shepherds come shortly after the birth.
Common Theme? God speaks to them. They respond. The story begins…and then continues because of them.
Will we turn down the noise, and turn up the volume…to hear the voice of Jesus in our lives?
Let’s read what happens…Luke 2…
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. (1-7)
A few things here:
– Rome is in power
– Caesar wanted to be worshiped like a god
– Census happened every 14 years, and it accomplished 2 things: made sure people paid the right amount of tax, made sure men were enrolled into the army.
– It did something else…it brought Mary & Joseph to Bethlehem.
– God used a census…perfectly timed…to fulfill prophecy
Every part of this story is important. Every part of your story is important too. Never forget that.
– – – – – –
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and 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. (8-20)
In this story we find…
The most ordinary of people…
Shepherds were considered ordinary, marginalized, forgotten…
– Men were chosen to be a shepherd because they didn’t have anything else to do (no inheritance, no real skills, no chance of marriage)
– The most down to earth you could get
Yet, they are the ones who hear the angelic announcement – they are the ones who see Jesus first.
Think about this connection…
– David was a shepherd, turned into a King
– These shepherds are chosen as an integral part of the Jesus story
– Jesus is eventually called…the Great Shepherd…
– It’s like we turned ‘caretaker’ into a word for a King…it’s beautiful…it’s transformative…it’s God’s way of doing things – using the most unlikely of people to make a difference in the world.
The most amazing of messages…
To the most ordinary of people, God gives the most powerful of messages…
– Don’t be afraid
– This is Good News
– It’s Great Joy
– It’s for everyone
Isn’t it like that most of times? We find a transforming thought in the most unexpected of places…children, students, the poor, the lower level, etc. Again, this is how God works; the least of these will share the greatest of messages – the gospel.
The most simplest of signs…
The Shepherds were given two clues to find Jesus: A baby wrapped in cloths, and a manger.
Simple signs that become significant in the story.
And isn’t that how most things happen in our lives? We never know how important something is until it plays out. We only see the significance of a sign or a clue or an interruption, after the fact. Then we can be thankful that it occurred.
People get caught up in the manger…small… stuffy…smelly…full of…animals 😉
But the point of the manger is that it leads the shepherds to Jesus…
Our family invited a dog into our home two years ago. I never wanted one, but alas, Rocky has become part of our family. I’ve learned a number of things about dogs these past two years, one is this: when you point to something for the dog to look at or fetch, they don’t look at where you’re pointing, they look at your finger. They get enthralled with your finger and have no clue what you’re actually pointing to.
We do the same with signs…we get caught up with the signs…but they are important only because of where the signs lead.
May we stop looking at the crib and look at the baby. May we stop focusing on the manger, and instead see where it’s pointing…to Jesus
The most appropriate of responses…
Through out this advent season we’ve been encouraging you to listen for God’s voice in our life. To make his, the most important voice you tune into. To lower the noise around you and set your dial to what God is saying.
The question is, once you hear what he says, how will you respond?
The Shepherds show us the way.
They hurry to find Jesus
They tell everyone they can about Jesus
They worship Jesus
How will you respond to God’s voice in your life?
Are you paying attention?
Are you listening?
How are you planning to respond to what he’s saying?
– – – – – – – –
May we be like the shepherds, who, while doing the most ordinary of things, were able to hear God’s voice in their lives. They followed the signs that led them to the Saviour. They were so blown away with it all that they couldn’t keep it to themselves and instead told everyone they could. And when it was over, they worshiped; they thanked God for speaking to them, for leading them, for entrusting them with this news, and for changing their own hearts and lives in the process.