God’s peace and merry Christmas to you all. May God richly bless you all with the consolation of His Son Jesus and the love and forgiveness that He brings.
I know your Christmas may look a little different this year. A little smaller, maybe. A little less elaborate. Maybe not even under the best of circumstances. But no matter how you’re interpreting all the events unfolding in our nation and world, it all serves a greater purpose – to remind us that we are living in a fallen world in need of a Savior.
And that’s a good thing to be reminded of. And somehow no matter where we are all coming from in life, we know that this holy night gets right to the heart of it all.
Tonight we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. And I want you all to stop and think just about one tiny little detail about the Christmas story. And it’s this: that the first Christmas celebration happened … in all possible places … in a field.
That’s right, the first Christmas celebration all happened in a field, where shepherds kept watch over their flock by night. Right where they lived and worked. All of a sudden everything changed: the angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them. Those shepherds stared up in amazement and they were filled with awe.
And the angel said to them “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. For you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
At that announcement of the birth of this child, the whole night sky was illuminated with light and the heavenly host. Myriads of angels in heavenly worship sounded forth and sang, “Glory to God in the highest and peace to His people on earth.”
Just think about it. The first Christmas celebration could have taken place anywhere. At the temple. Or it could have commenced in a giant cathedral, but it didn’t. The angels first announced this good news to simple shepherds, in a field, where they kept watch – where they worked, where they labored, and where they toiled through the night.
When those angels departed from them, their only thought was to double-time over to Bethlehem to see this wonder that the Lord had made known to them. And when they arrived, they peered into those stable doors, and saw Mary and Joseph and the Baby lying in a manger. They could barely contain their excitement when they saw Him and shared with all there what had been told them by the angel in the field that night: that THIS was the Savior, the one true Good Shepherd. But interestingly enough, the shepherds didn’t stay there either.
They gazed joyfully upon the Savior of the world, and then they returned right back to the field from which they came, where the angel of the Lord spoke to them. And they went right on glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard.
But that field to which they returned was never the same after that and neither were they. The Gospel proclaimed by the angel of the Lord to them in that field transformed the very ground on which they stood. It had become holy ground. The multitude of angels had transformed the sky above where they worked. They had peered into those stable doors and seen that everything that once rightfully belonged to heaven had now broken right into the world in which they worked, where they toiled, and endured sleepless nights, where they cooked their meals, where they sat with their families and prayed. The first Christmas celebration happened in a field.
So tell me about where you live. Tell me about your work. Your toil, your sleepless nights. Where do you eat your meals and wash the dishes? Where do you rock a baby to sleep?
The very first Christmas celebration happened in a field. Not in a temple. Not in a grand cathedral but in a field. Where ordinary folks worked and toiled. All to remind you that Christ is truly your Immanuel – meaning God with us – God with us in the muck and mire of our daily lives.
I know it’s been a messy year. Difficult, with new trials and frustrations. But don’t give in to fear. The first word of the angel to the shepherds is simply “Don’t be afraid.” And it’s great this year to really take it to heart. After all, the sky is not falling, as the preachers of doom would have you believe, but instead it’s filled with angels, singing anthems, glory to God in the highest and peace to His people on earth.
Share in the wonder of this night. Open your ears to the angelic preacher whom He has sent to announce good news of great joy. That for you, this day, is born a Savior. Peer into those stable doors and see Him.
Dear people loved by God: God’s message comes to you in the very place where you are working, toiling, and living. I know that your work doesn’t stop, your responsibilities are endless, and the many demands upon you certainly won’t stop – just because it’s Christmas.
But remember that even those shepherds, who adorn your Nativity scenes at home, had to return to their work. But when they returned – that field where they worked was never the same! They stood on holy ground.
So think again about that field and that very first Christmas celebration. Shepherds, angels, and the infant Christ lying in a manger. And then look around you, the ones you love, your humble home, and the work God has given you to do. Whether washing dishes or consoling a neighbor, the ground beneath your feet is holy ground. And the Lord is with you through it all. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
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OFFERINGS TO LMC
Please remember your gifts to LMC. There are a few options for giving:
- You can mail your weekly offerings to the church.
- You can also do an online bill pay through your bank account, which can recur each month. Your bank then sends LMC a check with your offering. There is no cost to you or LMC for this.
- You can set up online giving through an App called Tithe.ly. There is a small fee associated with this transaction. You may find this option at www.lmcusc.org/give.