“They made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.” (Luke 2:1-20)
What do you imagine the shepherds told them? Did they tell about standing in a light of divine presence? Did they admit there were terrified? Did they tell about the angel’s announcement of “good news of great joy for all the people?” Maybe they said that they had heard a choir of angels praising God. I wonder if they looked at the child lying in a manger and said, “The angel told us about him. That’s the one we’ve been waiting for.”
I don’t know exactly what the shepherds told them I only know that whatever it was it left those who heard it filled with awe, in wonder, and inspired. They were amazed.
What is so amazing about this story that two thousand years later we are still telling it? What is so amazing that we come back year after year to hear a story we’ve already heard and probably know by heart? What about this story amazes you tonight?
I’m not asking about your amazement at what happened to the shepherds, Mary, or Joseph. I want us to push through the sentimentality of the story to its power and meaning for our lives tonight. I’m asking about how this story is amazing for you, in your life and circumstances tonight. I don’t want you to tell their amazing story. I want you to tell your amazing story.
Is it a story about recovering hope when you thought all was lost, finding freedom and forgiveness of past guilt and regret, or facing and moving through your fear? Maybe it’s a story of discovering light, meaning, and direction for your life when you were walking in darkness, or getting your life turned around and going in a new direction.
Maybe your amazing story is about experiencing peace in a time of turmoil or getting through another day when you didn’t think you could even get out of bed that morning.
It might be a story about how your life was put back together when you weren’t sure if you even had all the pieces. Maybe it’s a story about love and intimacy, abundance and gratitude, healing and wholeness.
Maybe it’s a story about feeling a presence greater than and from beyond yourself. Maybe it’s a story about looking in the face of the child lying in a manger and recognizing yourself.
Every one of those and a thousand others like them is an amazing story of Christmas and they all begin with the child lying in a manger. We come this night to once again receive that child into the manger of our own lives.
It doesn’t matter who you are, why you are here, or what has and has not happened in your life the past year, the angel’s announcement of “good news of great joy for all the people” is a promise that all of us are given and have an amazing story. And sometimes the most amazing thing about that story is that it is happening even when we don’t see it or can’t yet believe it.
What is the story you would make known about the child? How has that story grown in you? Is it still growing in you? If not, why not? In what ways does it continue to change and challenge you?
The amazing story began with the shepherds but it can only continue with us. It is now your story and my story. And in whatever ways it penetrates our hearts, our minds, our emotions, all that we love and hold as dear, it will always be a story that is simply amazing.
The Christmas story, that amazing story of God with us, does not end with the birth of Jesus. That’s when it begins. And it’s not simply a story to tell, it’s a story to live.
Let’s vow this night to live that story to its fullest, to open ourselves to the world and word of the shepherds, and to allow our lives, words, and actions to become the story. Don’t you want to be amazed and amazing?
Merry Christmas. Merry amazing Christmas.
Image Credit: By Bartolo di Fredi – Wikimedia Commons, CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication
Content Acknowledgment: I am grateful to my friend DS for his inspiration and many words that are part of this sermon.