JOHN SCOTT: Something to think about

The Christmas story, as told by the gospel writer, Luke, is a grounding piece of Scripture for all of us. Every level of humanity is included in the story, which means there is room for each of us in God’s redemption story. The most and the least significant play major roles while the only star is one placed in the night sky to stand against the darkness and point the way to the babe born in the manger. Pay attention to the imagery of light.

Take the time to read Luke 2:8-21 slowly. Ask yourself where you would be in the story if your personality and situation were included in that time and place. Find yourself in the story through one of the many characters represented.

Personally, I would identify with the shepherds. It is their inclusion in the story that reminds me that the gift of Jesus Christ is for all humankind. I can almost hear those guys around their fire on that hillside after they had gathered all the sheep together for the night. They may have even said something like, “Boy, what a boring way to live. All we do is hang out with smelly sheep and sit around fires at night watching the stars. We could be down in Jerusalem where things are happening…but…here we are…nothing ever changes.”

All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a heavenly being breaks into their world of monotony with the best news the world has ever heard. And they are the first to hear! The angel tells them that if they would go quickly into Bethlehem, they would see the One on whom all of history will depend. They will personally experience the greatest event of all time.

While they looked at each other in confused amazement, a whole host of angels appeared and began singing over them. Before the angels could finish, the shepherds were running toward Bethlehem to find a stable where the One whom the prophets foretold and prophesied about and saints dreamed lay wrapped in swaddling cloths.

The shepherds were not only the first to hear, but they were also the first to see. Their lowly position in life was one that the world regarded as insignificant, unclean, and even outcast. They were not included in the daily or weekly routine of Temple worship and social gatherings. After all, they were dirty, smelly, and by ceremonial law regarded as unworthy until they went through the required penance, sacrifices, and cleaning. Despite the world and its religious system declaring them “unclean” and “unworthy” God opened heaven and deemed them worthy of a divine invitation to seek God’s own gift to the world.

Can you imagine what that invitation alone did for their self-esteem and sense of self-worth? They did not walk to Bethlehem. They ran!

God has a way of breaking into our lives when we least expect it, and even when we least deserve it. The eternal is famous for breaking into normal routines and daily life. The Christmas story is no different, but it is meant to make a difference. God has come. He has come so that, as in the lives of the shepherds, His divine presence can break into our lives. Are you longing for Him this Christmas? Can you hear His invitation to you? Run to Him. He is waiting for you.

John Scott is the pastor at Manistee’s United Methodist Church

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