The 2nd Sunday in Advent December 4, 2022
645, 103, Worship Supplement 2000: #702, WS #706
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
Audio of the sermon is available at: https://anchor.fm/ministrybymail
+ In the Name of Jesus Christ +
Prayer of the Day: Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Your only-begotten Son that at His second coming we may worship Him in purity; who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. (NKJV)
In the Name of Christ our Savior, dear fellow redeemed,
When I turned about 13 or so, nothing ever happened in my life, and so there was nothing for me to ever talk about. My Mom would ask, “So what did you do in school today?”
“Nothing,” I would say.
“Well, you were there all day. Something must have happened.”
“Not really,” I replied.
“Did you learn anything?”
“Maybe,” I said.
My poor mother. Obviously, there were things I could have told her. Lots of things happened at school that I could have shared with her. Hey, I could have even shared my feelings with her…Well, that might have been taking things a little too far.
Do you ever feel that you don’t really have much to tell? Maybe it’s a guy thing. But for all of us life can fall into a predictable, hum-drum, routine. The same old grind at work. The same old errands to perform every week. The same old problems in the family that never seem to go away. Things happen, but nothing, it seems, ever really happens.
Maybe that’s what the shepherds were doing out in the fields of Bethlehem, wondering among themselves if there was any interesting news to report:
“Anything happen today?”
“One of the lambs got separated from its Mother,” one of the shepherds pipes up as he warms his hands by the fire.
“A couple of the ewes got into it again in the south pasture,” another says, “Oh, yea, and Daisy wandered off for the third time this week. Just the usual.”
“What about in Bethlehem? What’s going on over there?”
“Well,” mutters one, “the inns are all full. Business is booming with all the extra folks in town for the tax census.”
But all agree that while it’s busier than usual over in Bethlehem, it’s nothing really out of the ordinary. After all, the government will always want its taxes. People will keep going here and there. Businessmen will keep trying to make a buck. Just the “same-old, same-old” as this world keeps spinning round and round.
If indeed that’s how the Bethlehem shepherds were looking at life that night, their attitude was suddenly changed. For, lo and behold, there was big, big news from over in Bethlehem. In fact, never again could they or would they say nothing ever happens. Soon they would have something to tell. Something they would never forget. Forever after, as they sat around their campfire, they would tell the wondrous tale of that night, the night that changed everything, not just for them, but for the whole world.
The angel told the news: A Savior was born! A Savior for all! A Savior to take away the curse of sin, the sting of death, the threat of hell! He was the Christ, the one promised to Adam, to Abraham, to David, to Isaiah. He was the Lord. The same One Who made the starry skies at which the shepherds gazed night after night…Who had parted the waters of the Red Sea…Who had worked mighty deeds through the prophets of old.
God had come to earth to live among men as one of us. They would find Him, wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a manger. They would find Him and them tell of Him, spreading abroad the saying which was told them concerning this Child. How could they help it?! Yes, now they really had something to talk about!
Why does life so often become the “same-old, same-old” for you and me? Why do we often live as if the Miracle of Bethlehem never happened? As if we don’t have much that’s very exciting to talk about? As if we’ve never heard the news the angel told the shepherds?
Maybe part of the reason is that we don’t always take seriously what the Bible says about our personal sinfulness. My friends, we break God’s laws all of the time. But do we really take the time to look at our lives? To examine our hearts? To listen to the words we say, and how we say them? Do you and see our sin for what it is? Our sins are not just little mistakes we sometimes make. No! They are wicked and rebellious acts against an almighty and holy God. Beloved, what the Bible says about what we justly deserve for our lawlessness hasn’t changed. We deserve never ending punishment in hell.
And yet, amazingly and wonderfully, we have been rescued from that unimaginable fate. Because God loves us He sent His Son to suffer the hell we deserved. The Christ Child came so we could have Life that never ends in Heaven! So I think we do have something very amazing to talk about, don’t you?
The cancer survivor knows he has great news to share! The woman who walks away without a scratch from a terrible car accident has a story to tell! The soldier whose metal lined vest stops a bullet from penetrating his heart has something to write home about.
Don’t we have something to tell!?! The cancer of sin looked unstoppable, but we have a Savior. In Him we are spiritual and eternal survivors. We were facing a head on collision with death, but in Christ we walk away scratch-free. The bullet of hell was aimed right at us, but the Child of Bethlehem took that bullet for us when He hung on the cross.
Nothing to talk about?! Life nothing but the same dull routine? No higher purpose in life to earn a living and grab a little fun here and there?!
A little girl, who had never attended Sunday school or received any Christian training in her home, was sick in the hospital. At Christmas, the Nativity Story was read in the children’s ward. The little girl was captivated. After the service she turned to her grim-looking nurse and said: “Have you ever heard that story before?” “Oh, yes, answered the nurse, many times.” “Well,” said the little girl, “you sure don’t look like it!”
Have we not heard the very same news the angel told about Mary’s baby and God’s own Son? In spirit have we not been to Bethlehem? With eyes of faith have we not seen the very same miracle the shepherds saw that night long ago? We all have, but do our lives always look like it? Do our lives always show that something truly wonderful has happened to us? Something we just can’t keep to ourselves? And are our feet ready to run and tell all the great things God has done for you and me and or all?
You know, before the shepherds could experience the desire to share the news, they needed to go see for themselves. They needed to spend time with Jesus before they were ready to go and tell other about Him. It’s the same for us. We need to spend time with Jesus. We need to read and study and meditate upon His Word every day. So what are we waiting for? Let’s run every day to that precious Word of God, which assures us of forgiveness, comforts our worried hearts, and overcomes our fear of death and hell? Let’s join the shepherds and make haste to Bethlehem, where we will find God’s everlasting and unconditional love lying in manger. Then we’ll be ready and eager to spread the news!
Did you make any lists for Christmas? What about a Christmas list in which you write down all the people you can personally tell of God’s love in Christ. Whose name might you include on such a list? Why not start with the people in your life who don’t know what Christmas is really all about? Then add to your list the people in your life who maybe have heard of Him but who have yet to bow before Him in humble faith. Then be sure to include family members and loved ones in your life who maybe are drifting away from Christ’s love and truth. Yes, we can pray for all the people on our list, and that’s very important. But we also want to be like the shepherds, who went and told anyone and everyone the same good news the angels told them. You don’t have to back anyone into a corner. Just take the opportunity to tell why Christmas is so special and why Jesus is so important to you. That’s all!
The “same-old, same-old”? Nothing to tell? Not on your life! Haven’t you heard?
Down in a lonely manger The humble Christ was born;
And God sent us salvation That blessed Christmas morn!
Go tell is on the mountain, Over the hills and ev’ry-where;
Go tell is on the mountain That Jesus Christ is born!
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.