December 2, 2021

The Shepherds Speak

We may still share the thrill.

We know the shepherds’ Christmas story: living out in fields near that now-famous stable; being terrified by the bright, heaven-appointed spokes-angel, who tried to calm them with “Do not be afraid!”; being overwhelmed by an army of glory first hiding in the night, then, when they could restrain themselves no longer, breaking out of the gloom into radiant song and splendor, crying out,“Glory to God in the highest heaven; and greetings of peace to earthlings who receive His favor.”

We know that thereafter, Bethlehem’s original pastor group could not hold their silence any better than the angel chorale had harnessed theirs. Everyone everywhere had to hear.

This time around, it’s the turn of shepherds you may personally know, inheritors of the Bethlehem legacy. They share with us their own greetings of peace, their own memories of, and humble reflections on, that unparalleled event. You know them as pastors because “pastor,” the Latin word for “shepherd,” is the title they now bear. So here, then, are the voices of shepherds of our time, pastors from around the world, recalling, reflecting, commenting on that splendored night:

PASTOR TED: The “good tidings of great joy” shared with the shepherds at the first advent of Christ portraying the eternal gospel through His justifying and sanctifying righteousness come in the beginning of God’s Holy Word found in Genesis 3:15 and the end found in Revelation 14:6, pointing us to His second advent!

PASTOR GLENN—Four months of lockdown [in Australia]—isolated to my home and essential services.  Missing family, friends, colleagues . . .  But Jesus came to a world, locked in sin, for 33 years without direct contact with God. Jesus chose to die and conquer sin and get me out of lockdowns forever! That’s good news!

PASTOR LUIS—Recently, shopping for a few holiday decorations, my wife and I learned that Christmas decorations have been out since July! Yes, 2021 has been difficult; we need hope. And we find it in Jesus, the light that shines in the darkness (Isa. 9:2).

PASTOR GERALD—“Fear not!” was the first thing the shepherds heard from jubilant angelic hosts bringing them good news. God continues to mouth, whisper, and sometimes even shout to us, “Fear not!” as we await the glorious appearing of our Savior. “Fear not” is always good news.

PASTOR WASHINGTON—Emmanuel—“God with us”—is one of Jesus’ most powerful and majestic names. God’s Son was manifested in the flesh to reveal the Father and to redeem our fallen world. What an amazing gift to humanity!

PASTOR STEPHEN— “A child is born”: words that count  because of later words—“He is risen!” May this gift of a child victorious over death and sin uplift, enthuse, and fill you with hope.

PASTOR MARIO—God’s greatest gift to us is Jesus Christ. His birth, death, and resurrection made our salvation possible. This is good news—to share with everyone!

PASTOR RICHIE—The Prince of unlimited power became a baby, choosing humanity with all its vulnerabilities, to provide us an escape from the clutches of sin. The is the strongest reason I believe in Jesus . . . I simply cannot find that kind of love anywhere else.

PASTOR HENSLEY G.—The first Christmas: gatherings of people from all walks of life: lowly shepherds, Gentile kings, barren Elizabeth, priest Zach, prophet Anna, ancient Simeon. Today we see that beautiful picture again when families gather at Christmastime.

PASTOR CLINTON— Christmas means family, and sharing Jesus!

PASTOR ROBERT—An opportunity for personal focus on, and sharing with others about Jesus choosing humanity and death to give us eternal life.

PASTOR JD—My Savior, in a feeding trough. But from this straw the Light of the world shines brighter than a thousand suns. Let us share His light, the treasure in the trough, joining the heralding angels to sing “Glory to God!”

PASTOR MELINDA—Greetings all, or as we say at Christmastime in Samoa, “Manuia le Kirismasi.” Although many have dealt with sorrow this year, I am confident that God will bring us comfort as we venture into this holiday season and new year. May you always keep God first: “Fa’ amuamua le Atua.”

PASTOR ADRIENNE—Wow! Wow, WOW! Let me tell you . . . Listen, listen to me . . . I just saw the Messiah! The Messiah is here! Did you hear me? He will save us! Good news, good news . . . Oh, my heart is bursting with joy! Hallelujah! We have waited for so long, but take hope, my friend, and find courage: the Messiah is born!

PASTOR KYOSHIN—At Christmas we celebrate the life of humility and sacrifice that Jesus lived for us. Born in a manger, He embodied supreme love and kindness. That power resides in humility, was shown and declared once and for all. As His followers we are called to live just such a life on this earth.

PASTOR ASHIA—He is here! The Messiah—the one the ancients spoke of! HE IS HERE! Four hundred years of silence, 400 years of waiting; living under Roman tyranny! Our Savior has come to rescue us!

PASTOR MIKAELA—I still ask the others if we were dreaming. I replay that moment over and over, the bright sky, the music—oh, the music! The Messiah is here, the promised one, the one I first heard about from my grandmother. His name is Jesus. You’ve just got to meet Him!

PASTOR EXTON—The Christmas season takes us back to a significant beginning when God unwrapped His greatest gift, Jesus Christ, given to redeem a sin-trapped world. Our greatest response should be to glorify His provision and magnify His purpose in our lives.

PASTOR MARCOS—The baby has no form or comeliness; no beauty that we should desire Him. Bound to be despised and rejected, a stumbling block and foolishness. And yet, in His light we see light. Let us bask in it.

PASTORAL TEAM WILLIE AND ELAINE—Luke 2:11 proclaims: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (KJV). During this Christmas season may we be reminded not only of His birth, but also that He is coming very soon to give us peace forevermore!

PASTOR ALEX—God gave us His best, Jesus, when we were at our worst. And that gift is still ours. So, come, reflect on the gracious gift we have in God’s only begotten Son; come, let us adore Him, Christ our Lord.

PASTOR HENSLEY M.: Because of a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger, we now have a Friend and a Savior in heaven. Go, tell the world.

PASTOR ROY: A star attracted the Magi, who then disturbed a city whose king commanded the priests to confirm that the Messiah had arrived. If God could use a star to do so much, in what ways could He use you?

PASTOR JINHA:  Jesus became a Child of man so that we could become children of God.

* Bible texts credited to NRSV are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission.