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12.24.18 Three Perspectives, Luke 2:1-20 Sermon Summary

by on December 26, 2018

JOSEPH

I have been angry about Rome for a while. We all have been. Yes, they have occupied our land for generations. There’s nothing really new there. But now there is this census!

It was never going to be a convenient time to go from Nazareth to Bethlehem. I had to go to Bethlehem as a descendent of King David. It was 90 miles, hilly, and bandits and wild animals confronted us all along the way.

What made it worse was that Mary was pregnant. And what an ordeal that has been for me! Here we were engaged, with everything settled, and I discover she’s pregnant. It was my right to leave the arrangement. Mary would have to fend for herself. It could have been much worse for her according to the Law. But I decided to separate quietly and move on.

Then this divine messenger visited me in my dreams. He assured me there was some meaning, some purpose in all this. This fatherless child will be called Yeshua, God saves. And I thought, It’s about time! I don’t know how much more Rome-thing we can take. Our religion’s been corrupted to keep the peace. We’ve already paid tribute and now this census meant that even more taxes were coming.

I thought: We do need a savior; but why this child? Why do I have to be involved? Why can’t I go along with own plan—find a new, a faithful wife, and surround myself with my own children? I can keep the business going. I can live and die like everyone else.

No. Now I’ll always hear the murmuring of the people as we pass by. I’ll always have to figure out how much to tell others. People will always be thinking I’m crazy or stupid or just too nice.  And I realized it’s not just the nation who needs a savior: I need a savior just to get through all this.

I’ve had nine months to get used to it. I’ve done a lot of reflecting and praying. My faith has grown, just like Mary’s belly. It’s stronger now. So we arrive in Bethlehem and there’s no room in the inn? We’ll have to sleep with the pack animals? With my stronger faith I’m OK with it.

I’ve learned that with a God who saves, I can handle anything. It’s not that it’s not hard, but the difficulty is made a little easier with God. And now that this child is born, we’ll see how God uses him to save others.

A SHEPHERD

It didn’t seem like a special night. It was cold, dark, and the sheep were napping on and off. Some of the other shepherds I knew—others I had just met. You get grouped with different guys all the time.

We were having the typical conversation: How we never have enough money; how physically hard the job is; how we wish we had a family—or if we did have a family, how we never get to see them.

Being a shepherd is hard. Most of us are kind of social outcasts. Some of us have earned that through bad behavior. Others of us just don’t really fit in. King David started out as a shepherd. I guess he was a bit of an outcast from his family—what with all those older brothers. None of the guys I was with that night, I can tell you, was going to be king.

And then it happened. A divine messenger appeared to us. At first we thought it was a wild animal, and we were ready to fight and kill. Pretty soon it was clear it wasn’t an animal. But we were still scared.

This heavenly being started talking politics! He said a savior was being born in none other than the city of David. We thought that was nonsense. The Roman Caesar called himself the savior of the world. They were calling him the Prince of Peace—right! They even called him the Son of God.

There couldn’t be two sons of God, right? And certainly not born in Bethlehem! So we wrote the vision off as an undigested bit of beef. But then a whole choir of these messengers appeared. They corrected our political thinking. They said, “Glory to God in the highest heaven.” “Don’t forget,” they were saying, “others may claim to be god, you might even have other things as gods. But your calling is to the highest God.”

We were shocked that this message came even to us shepherds. We are poor, marginalized, and uneducated shepherds. But we decided to go to Bethlehem and see. . .

A HEARER

We left early and I’m glad we did! I had no idea so many people from Bethlehem! We arrived yesterday and got one of the last rooms. Others have been arriving pretty consistently all day. I even saw a pregnant couple earlier. I hope they have relatives here, ‘cause they’ll never find a place now.

We were eating bread and watching everyone, talking about the Romans, of course, which is why we were all here in Bethlehem—to get counted. Rome is very efficient about such things. Man how we could use a King David again!

“What are the chances?” we were saying. Looking around at all these descendants of David come back to Bethlehem—maybe the chances are pretty good! Or maybe the bloodline has been watered down too much for such hopes.

Anyway, I’m not sure it mattered anyhow—God’s been quiet a long time!

We saw some shepherds walk through a bit ago. “Figures,” we thought. “Tourists make easy targets.” Shepherds are pretty sneaky. We were keeping our eye out for them.

But we didn’t really need to, because when they came back around they were really excited about something. I’ve never seen anyone so excited! They said they saw a vision like the prophets of old. The said they heard a message from God about the birth of a new king, someone who would save us—but not just us: This child would save the whole world.

And I guess that’s why they were so excited: Because if God had finally broken his silence to say he was going to save the whole world, then that must include even folks like shepherds. They had come into town to see this newborn king. They said he was wrapped in bands of cloths and lying in a manger. I could tell that pregnant woman was close . . .

If this is all true, what the shepherds are saying, then I’m going to start looking at life differently. I had concluded long ago that God wasn’t too interested in us anymore, so I stopped looking for God or listening for God.

But now, if this is really God’s doing, then I guess I need to be more open to God—especially in the ordinary things. . .

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