Today is the day after Christmas. I hope you enjoyed a blessed Christmas celebration amongst family and friends. In a few short hours, I will be on my way to yet another family Christmas celebration. Right now, I am enjoying the quiet by the Christmas tree as the rest of my family sleeps.
So much hype, anticipation, and expectation lead up to Christmas. It can result in feelings of let down after the excitement of the day is over. I want to share with you some reflections from Christmas Eve services this year that speak to my heart of the gift of Christmas year round.
Since our home church does not have a Christmas Eve service, our family has always chosen to attend Christmas Eve services at a local church. We used to attend a beautiful musical service at a church close to our home where we could walk. Although the service was beautiful and walking home in softly falling snow was magical on Christmas Eve, I admit I can no longer stay up until after midnight on Christmas Eve especially since I always work a full day on Christmas Eve. This year, since Christmas Eve was on Saturday and I did not have to work, we opted to attend an earlier service at a church we have never attended. I am so glad we did.
The Christmas story does not change. The meaning of its message does not change. I believe, though, that there are different angles and different personal messages that God may have for us to hear in a different light. This year, that very thing happened to me as the pastor emphasized the ordinary in the extraordinary events of that night.
The pastor began the message sharing about some homeless men in a rural area. As he journeyed deeper into his message, these homeless men became the shepherds on that night so long ago in Bethlehem. He shared the Christmas story message in Luke chapter 2, and about God’s favor resting upon these men, the lowliest in society. He also shared how God chose to use Mary and Joseph, common citizens, as well as the wise men who were wealthy and well-respected men in their society. The point…God uses all people. As the message continued, he highlighted and emphasized Luke 2:20…Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard.
The shepherds had been blessed with the gift of a front row seat with backstage passes to the greatest event of time, yet they did not leave that manger scene with a sense of entitlement. They returned to their flocks. As the pastor reflected…God did not make them smell better, did not elevate their position in society, did not shower them with financial blessings…rather they returned to their flocks of sheep with changed hearts full of praise and love for God and His gift to them.
When you look at the Christmas story through the eyes of the shepherds, you can’t help but acknowledge that God’s ways are not our ways. His way is not the way of the world. God does not value the things that the world values. He does not define self-worth and success through professions, bank account balances, the cars we drive, the clothes we wear, the houses we live in, our titles, our mistakes, or our failures. Our worth rests in Him. Whether we are tending His flocks of sheep or leading an organization as CEO with integrity, God loves us all the same. His gift is available to every single person at Christmas and every single day.
May His joy of this season live on every single day in your heart and life.