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The Example of the Shepherds
Luke 2:8-20


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
First Sunday after Christmas—December 26, 2010

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

As we continue our Christmas celebrations, the theme for our meditation is “The Example of the Shepherds,” based on these verses from the Christmas Gospel in the second chapter of St. Luke:

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you:  Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, 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, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’

“And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, ‘Let us now go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.’

“And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.  And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.  And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.  But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.”

The first example of the shepherds is: Believe the Good News.  The message of the angel to the shepherds on that first Christmas was truly astounding; nearby, in the little town of Bethlehem, the Savior of the world was born!  And nearly 2,000 years later, the message of Christmas for you tonight is still astounding; the Babe of Bethlehem is your Savior.  Your personal Savior, who by his birth, his life, his death and resurrection paid for your sins, earning for you forgiveness, salvation, eternal life.  “Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord . . . Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”  Follow the first example of the shepherds: Believe the Good News.

The second example of the shepherds is: Come and worship.  “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”  The shepherds could have had all sorts of good excuses for not going to Bethlehem.  But when the angels says, “And this shall be a sign unto you:  Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger,” the shepherds don’t hesitate for a moment but immediately set out to worship Christ the newborn King.  This Good News of the Savior’s birth is so important to the shepherds that they come with haste unto Bethlehem.  Follow the second example of the shepherds: Come and worship.

The third example of the shepherds is: Make known the message.  “And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.  And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.”  The shepherds were not theologians; they were not full-time church workers; they were not trained in the methods of evangelism.  And yet, God chose these shepherds to be the first earthly messengers of the Good News, “Christ, the Savior, is born!”  God has also chosen another unlikely messenger to spread this Good News—you!  It is your mission, like the shepherds, to make known abroad all that has been told you concerning this child.  Follow the third example of the shepherds: Make known the message.

The fourth example of the shepherds is: Glorify and praise God in your everyday life.  “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.”  The shepherds returned to their everyday lives, to their work and families and communities, and in their everyday lives they glorified and praised God for all the things that they and heard and seen that first Christmas.  When you exit out the doors of this church and return to your everyday life, to your work and family and community, follow the fourth example of the shepherds: Glorify and praise God in your everyday life.

All to soon, Christmas is over.  But, if you follow the example of the shepherds, the beautiful Christmas story will have a beautiful impact on your life throughout the year.  Believe the Good News: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”  Come and worship: “And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.”  Make known the message: “And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.”  Glorify and praise God in your everyday life: “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.”

Follow “The Example of the Shepherds.” 

Amen.

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