Luke 2:8: Now there were in the same country shepards living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
Christmas eve is an amazing time. When you are young, it is filled with anticipation. Perhaps you have a roll in the Christmas play or you are singing in the choir. Maybe your favorite aunt, uncle, or cousin, is in town , and there is always the excitement that goes along with the gifts under the tree.
As adults, Christmas eve changes. The responsibilities change. Instead of having a roll in the Christmas play, now your directing it. While you still look forward to that favorite aunt or uncle coming over, now you must entertain them. As for the gifts, you just know you’ve forgotten something. Even so, there is still Christmas Eve service.
All of the stress of the day begins to melt away as afternoon stretches into evening. As you count glass ware to ensure that you have enough for Christmas dinner, your mind drifts to the upcoming service. What will the message be? What book will the pastor be teaching from? Will old man Smith make it? He has been in the hospital so as you get aunt May her fifth cup of sugar free coco you say a silent prayer for Mr. Smith and his family. You are at peace.
You get everyone into the car or cars and you arrive at church; as you pull into the lot, you are looking for Mr. Smith “God must be getting ready to use me,” you think, not as silently as you would have liked. “I can’t wait to shake his hand and wish him a merry Christmas,” you tell your aunt.
Then you realize that your uncle has been circling the lot for a good ten minutes. Who are all these people? You have never seen them before. Then the realization hits you like a red wine stain on a white table cloth. Your family, may never find a parking spot much less sets for 8 in the santuary. The peace that you had earlier in the day; that’s gone. The Creasters ( Christmas and Easter church goers) are here desending like a plague of locust on Egypt. You hope that you will at least be able to sit in the santuary as you park across the street. Suddenly it is cold; the wind and snow hitting your face like a thousand needles. You hadn’t noticed until now what a bitter night it was. You aunt, somewhere behind you, says that everyone looks nice. You nod and grunt absently as you trudge to the door. Mr. Smith holds it open for you as you aproach, greeting you as you enter. You don’t notice saying, ” it’ll be impossible to find 8 seats together.
If you can relate to any of the above story, you are not alone. I chuckled at the ease with which the above prose flowed when I wrote it. As the old saying goes, “we laugh because it’s funny and we laugh because it’s true.” I think that all Christians have been frustrated at one time or another by the ocasional, or more appropriately put, the twice a year church attendees. After all, this is the big day, the celebration of the coming of Christ to live among us; our salvation made flesh. There is a bit of pride in it. Pride in the knowledge that Jesus died so that we who believe might live. Romans 10:13 For whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Those of us who are saved can get caught up in the revelry and in doing so miss the point.
Who did the multitude of heaven announce the good news to? Shepards. Shepards represent the lowest of the low, the bottom of the food chain. There is a reason for it. The reason is revealed in Luke 2:10 Then the angel said to them, do not be afraid for I bring you good tidings of great joy which sall be to all people. The part that strikes me is all people. As my pastor is fond of reminding us, all means all. Yes, all even means that family of twelve who you have never seen before that took up the last full row of seats and forced your family to sit in the back.
If it is crowded tonight, rejoice because this may be the only exposure to the gospel the that the strangers who occupy your usual seat may get all year! Pray that the word of God would fall on a soft heart and that they would come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior. People must hear the gospel to be saved by its power. This is the biggest night of the year, not for Christians but for God. Instead of praying for good seats, pray that all who will hear the truth will be saved. This is not a members only meeting; it never is. Shake the hand of a stranger, offer to pray for them. Be engaged and watch as the Lord God makes His presence known to all! Jesus is here!