Christmas Time

There is no question that Christmas is my favorite time of the year. The shepherds watching their flocks by night is my favorite part of the Christmas story. I do not know why, maybe because the shepherds were camping out at night watching animals. As a kid, that seemed like the ultimate job. I loved camping and I loved animals. Let’s not forget the angels singing sweetly and serenely while the shepherds listened with smiles on their faces. Of course, now we know that is not the case. It was a hard, dangerous, and thankless job. The angels were warriors. They were messengers of God. It was rarely a good thing when they showed up. The Bible says that the shepherds were terrified. The whole scenario is mind boggling.

When I went to Israel while I was in college, I was honored to be able to read the Christmas story at the shepherd’s fields right outside Bethlehem. We were the only group out there. It was quiet; you could see Bethlehem in the distance. It was one of the most surreal things I have ever done in my life. 

Our guide was an archeologist from New York. He did tours when he was not involved with a dig. We were supposed to spend time in Egypt and then Switzerland, but a war changed all those plans, so we spent 13 days in the Holy Land. We got a lot of behind the scene tours into dig sights he was involved in. 

One of the “newer” archeological finds was the sheep the shepherds were watching by night. Sheep were raised out in the wilderness area and not near towns. The sheep mentioned in Luke chapter 2 were close enough to town that the shepherds were able to go see Jesus. What they discovered was that the sheep being raised in Bethlehem were not like normal sheep. They were the flock of sheep raised for the Temple Sacrifices in Jerusalem. This adds a whole new twist to an already amazing story. The shepherds were raising sacrificial lambs so people’s sins could be forgiven. They were the first ones to visit the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Jesus was the fulfillment of the Passover lamb whose blood was splashed on the door posts during the Exodus. Imagine what the shepherds thought when they heard the angel say, “Behold I bring you great news that shall be for all people. For unto you is born this day the SAVIOR who is CHRIST THE LORD.” Do you think the shepherds put it all together? That the Savior would be the One to pay for all our sins and not a spotless lamb anymore?

The Bible says, “Blessed are they who have not seen, yet believe.” I always thought the opposite, “blessed are they who take it on faith.” We have the privilege of knowing the larger picture and how it all fits together.

Therefore, we as Christians have the responsibility to tell others. We need to be sure that our children know all they can about The God who loved us enough to send His Son to die on the cross for our sins. We need to be sure that Christ is the center of Christmas. It is a hard thing to do when everything gets lost in the “I wants.” At minimum, we should be reading the Christmas story from Luke 2 on Christmas morning. It can get hectic, but it should be a priority. Christmas Eve service should be another priority. I don’t want to be too judgmental, but most family get-togethers could wait for one hour to worship together on Christmas Eve. 

Finally, the shepherds told everyone what they had seen and heard. This is something else we should be doing; we should be telling others about the birth of Jesus and why we celebrate Christmas. We should start with our own families. 

Christmas is my favorite time of year. Not because of what we give or get, though that is a blast, but it is an amazing story of the Creator of the Universe becoming a human so that He could pay for all the evil and wrong things Man has done. 

Praying that we all have a spectacular Christ-centered Christmas. Merry Christmas! 

Pastor Greg

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