Just when you begin to accept your life the way it is: busy yet comfortable. God sends a messenger turning it all upside down. You are forced to reexamine yourself and change directions but only then do you discover the miracle of the Christ child. But, if you miss the message, you miss everything.
A woman with a damaged roof and no money needed help. Our church often repaired houses for those in need. In addition, her church offered to provide volunteers. I made the phone calls and arranged the work to be done on Saturday, or so I thought. Early on Saturday morning I received a phone call: “We can’t find anyone,” said the person in charge of volunteers.
“That can’t be. I promised the woman and the other church that we would have the materials and a work crew there at 9:00 AM this morning.” I stammered, sensing trouble. “I am sorry,” she responded. “I’ve called everyone but the only one who can come is our supervisor, Frank.”
Frantically, I called potential volunteers but no one was home. We had to help this woman today. What would I do now? A voice inside me said: “Larry for a preacher, you can be pretty dumb. You go!”
“That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them.” (Luke 2:8-9)
“But Lord,” I replied. “I’m pastor of a big church with huge responsibilities! Preachers don’t do roofs! We pray for people who do roofs! What if I fall off and get hurt? What if they ask me to actually work?”
Do you ever wonder why God appeared to shepherds? Why not the inn keeper? It was his property. Why not the local religious leaders? They were looking for a Messiah. Why not a few of the local visitors in town for the Roman census? They didn’t have anything else to do. Why shepherds?
Maybe God did appear but…
• The inn keeper missed the birth of Christ because he was busy. There were customers to care for, meals to prepare and rooms to get ready: Christmas can be a busy time.
• Religious leaders missed the event because they had their own version of the Messiah which didn’t include a baby born in a water trough: Christmas is often misunderstood.
• Townspeople missed the birth of Jesus because they were celebrating a census. There were parties to attend, dinners to enjoy and gifts to open: Christmas is more than a celebration.
God’s angels appeared before the shepherds because unlike everyone else in Bethlehem, they were ready and willing to respond. In other words, a lot of folks missed the miracle of seeing the Christ child.
“When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.'” (2:15)
God occasionally offers “shepherd like” moments in the midst of everyday lives. My moment came on a Saturday morning just before Christmas. I drove to the house half-heartedly and resentful but I went. Then, I met the woman, toured her house and saw the damage. I knew this was where I needed to be.
“They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in a manger.” (16)
Only Frank, our supervisor knew how to repair a roof but somehow our motley group of volunteers managed to work without anyone getting hurt. Frank measured and rolled tar paper while others nailed it down. We were having so much fun swapping stories and making fun of our lack of carpentry skills that the morning flew by and the repairs were soon completed. As we came down, we were greeted with coffee, ham biscuits and a warm hug from a grateful woman who called us her “angels of mercy.”
“Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished…” (17-18)
Just when you begin to accept your life the way it is: busy yet comfortable. God sends a messenger turning everything upside down. You are forced to reexamine yourself, change directions but then you amazingly discover the miracle of the Christ child. But, if you miss the message, you miss everything.