Printable PDF: 12-25-2020 Christmas Day Sermon
David R. Clark ~ 1 John 3:1-2 ~ December 25, 2020
REJOICE AT GOD’S LAVISH GIFT OF LOVE
1See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
God’s richest blessings of joy and salvation to all of you.
Do you remember that old Sesame Street skit, “One of these things is not like the others?” I don’t know what it is for you, but there’s no question in my mind. When it comes to the Christmas story, it’s the shepherds. They just don’t fit.
Mary fits. She’s the mother of the Christ child.
Joseph fits. He’s Mary’s husband and a special protector of the Christ child.
Angels fit. They are messengers sent from heaven. They were God’s glorious communicators about this thing which had come to pass.
The star and the Magi fit. The priests/scholars/astronomers were fulfilling God’s prophecy, but they needed some divine intervention (the star) to find the child.
Obviously Jesus fits. He’s the whole reason for all of the rejoicing.
But the shepherds? No, to me the shepherds just don’t seem to fit. They are the innocent bystanders, the people who were in the right place at the right time. An afterthought? Well, not to God, but they can sure seem that way to you and me. They are the only ones who don’t really seem to have any “skin in the game.” They are all strangers. They probably never met Mary or Joseph before. Maybe they never saw them or Jesus ever again. We don’t really know.
That’s why, for me, it’s the shepherds. Shepherds were there to greet and worship baby Jesus. Imagine Queen Elizabeth inviting a bunch of local farmers to come and celebrate Christmas with her at Buckingham Palace. That’s never going to happen.
What does this have to do with us? A lot! My dear ones! I cannot express to you how full of love my heart is for you this Christmas. We have had an interesting 2020 to say the least. We have shared some great blessings this past year. Births, confirmations, marriages, growth in faith. Somehow I think that those are not the first thoughts that come to mind when someone says 2020. People have lost jobs. People have lost people. This year has made some of our Christians really lazy spiritually. I think we all shudder at the nightmare two-headed monster: political instability and COVID-19. It’s in what we hear. It’s in what we see. Frankly it’s what we say to each other also.
Not today. Today is different. Because shepherds, who had no business being there got invited to worship the Savior of the world. And today, we are the shepherds. We have no connection with Mary and Joseph or even Jesus in and of ourselves. Today we are in the right place at the right time. A bunch of spiritual beggars just hit the royal jackpot.
Maybe you have heard of, “Operation Santa Claus.” One of our local car dealers, every December for the past twenty years, gathers food and toys for kids who aren’t really sure where their next meal is going to come from. It makes the gifts they get probably the most lavish gift they will receive all year.
- He sent a child!
Dear fellow shepherds, today is, “Operation baby in the manger.” You are receiving the most lavish gift you will ever receive. That gift is the most important birth the world will ever know. It’s more important than a child born to the residents of Buckingham palace, even more important than our own children. This child is a lavish gift for the whole world, even you and me. In a time of hopelessness and sorrow, he brings joy. In a time when nothing seems to go right, he is the rightest thing, because he came to save us. Dear fellow shepherd, you are invited to his birth.
- He calls you his child!
There is more. Imagine if those shepherds were there in the stable with Mary and Joseph and before they left they had adopted every one of them into their family! Imagine that among all of the titles they could use for Jesus, in addition to King and Savior and Prince of Peace, they could also call Jesus “brother.”
Mary and Joseph didn’t do that. But God did. God adopted them as his own with all of the privileges and benefits and responsibilities of a member of God’s family. Dear fellow shepherd, he did for you, too!
So on this Christmas Day in the year 2020, I’m looking at the shepherds. I’m looking at what they got. I’m pondering how many times they sat around campfires and told that story of the baby in Bethlehem. I’m thinking about the smiles on their faces in the midst of a pretty cruel existence, and I’m smiling, too. Won’t you smile with me and REJOICE AT GOD’S LAVISH GIFT OF LOVE. Amen.