Advent 2016 — Dec 23

Christmas Eve-Eve

The first of our Christmas services starts at 7:00 tonight. Join us as we turn our eyes toward the coming of our Savior!

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see — I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”   When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.   After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.   When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.”   Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation.”   -- Luke 2:8-30   Christmas is about angels showing up. They serve as messengers from Heaven and seem to get involved when the news is exceptionally important. The news of our Savior's birth included a multitude. And the first to hear the great glad tidings happened to be shepherds. Think farm hands, if you want an accurate picture. Think hard-working, night-shift folk, wearing rubber boots with dung in the cleats, haven't taken a bath in three days, trying to stay warm by the fire, stirring leftover stew kind. They were specifically chosen by God to be the first guests invited to the barn to greet our newborn King. I'm sure they felt right at home. This was no accident. It is God saying one more time that He does have favorites and they just happen to be the forgotten poor who live on the margins of prosperity. The rich were also invited to Bethlehem, so don't get your feelings in a wad, says Matthew. Just be aware that God has friends in low places, and they are remarkably dear to his heart.