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Podcast: They Were Sore Afraid

At Christmastime, when we sing the hymn Silent Night, we generally think of the stable in Bethlehem & all that was going on there. In reality that night would have been  anything but quiet with a new born infant..and the animals. However  before that event Luke tells us earlier in his gospel that there were Shepherds…doing their job out in the fields. Now for first century Palestine that would have been the one of the lowest paying/ least respected job anyone could have. Yet ,for someone familiar with Hebrew Scripture many of the great leaders of the faith began as Shepherds. Moses as he was called by God in the burning bush. King David…who is credited with the 23rd Psalm: 

The LORD is my shepherd ; I shall not want . He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my  soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.    Psalm 23:1-3 KJV 

God..as a Shepherd—Lie down in Green Pastures (what the Shepherds were doing that Night)…He leads me..like a Shepherd leads his flock…and Restores the souls of His flock…Jesus reminded his followers…I am The Good Shepherd…who does ALL of these things. 

Luke continues to explain that these Shepherds were watching their flocks at night. Faithfully doing their job…when they encountered God is a great & significant way. A great lesson for us as we go about doing our day to day tasks…Do we leave room for God? Reminds me of the old Warner Bros cartoon of the Sheep Dog & the Coyote. When they were “On the Clock” they were focused on their vocation/calling. As with these shepherds, when we realize our calling from God…we are always…on the Clock. 

So, Luke tells us that there were these Shepherds..who were Living/Abiding Out In The Fields..not just working in the fields…he said living. However, a closer look at the one word Greek word (Agrauleō) that is translated here-“Living in the fields” who more literally means-out in the fields playing musical instruments” at first this makes no sense why it is translated living in the fields (if they are playing musical instruments they aren’t just working).  This would also bring to mind David, who was also Agrauleō. Before he was anointed David king, Samuel had come to Jesse to anoint one of his sons (with no success): 

Then Samuel asked,  “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,”  Jesse replied. “But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep.” “Send for him at once.”  1 Samuel 16:11 

These Shepherds are doing the same as David-Living/Abiding/Waiting. Then in the midst of the Silent Night-Luke tells us: An angel of the Lord appeared to them… Again when we see this displayed in Religious Art we see an angel floating above the Shepherds..in actuality the word used here to described this angel is the same word for Stand/Stood. One of the most prominent places we find this is in the sixth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians church. He says:

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.   Ephesians 6:13 

 Stand-Like the Angel in the Power of God & His Powerful Spirit. We are also told that The Glory of the Lord shone around them…Every Sunday when we have an opportunity to give back to God we celebrate by additionally offering a Doxology-Praising God by looking at His Glory. The Psalmist goes as far as tying our Salvation to Glory: 

Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.   Psalm 85:9 

God’s Salvation-is near those who Fear (Awe) Him-Glory is There! The speaking of fear. I think of what Luke records in the King James Version. 

They (The Shepherds)were Sore Afraid... 

Who wouldn’t be ? That was an incredible encounter and a starting place for them and maybe for many of us. What do we fear? When we hear the news from the world in TV/Newspapers/Internet…We fear so many things (just as the shepherds did)…Luke tells us: 

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid 

What would it take to keep us from worrying? An Encounter with Christ? My hope for everyone/anyone at Christmas—No Fear  . Luke records that the angel tells them: 

 I  bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 

This Good News will bring Great Joy…for ALL people. You notice the angel didn’t say-Don’t worry-Be Happy. Happiness is fleeting feeling-it comes and it goes. Joy is the permanent  state of being we can encounter again & again thru a relationship with Christ. Jesus  reminded his followers: 

And now I am coming to you. I have told them many things while I was with them so they would be filled with my joy.”    John 17:13 

May we all be filled with His joy this Christmas Season. Then Luke tells us the Shepherds are told: 

This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.  Luke 2:12 


So the Shepherds are given 2 signs /signals. The word “sign” is an expression used in interpreting written documents in the ancient word… There was no punctuation. There had to be some kind of sign/signal in to indicate where words and sentences stopped /ended. The same implication is here with this message to these shepherds..this how your New Life will begin.

 First, A Baby wrapped in cloths (indicating new Life). Second, Lying in A Manger, a place Shepherds knew well that provided nutrition for their sheep. This baby will somehow feed them and all Humankind…In Bethlehem-(Meaning House of Bread). Jesus told his followers...I am The Bread of LifeLuke continues saying: 


Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others — the armies of heaven — praising God: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors.”   

A large group of God’s messengers Praising God in Doxology as we did earlier…adding Peace on earth-To all whom God finds Favor. We recently looked at  Luke’s telling of the Annunciation of Mary and the word we learned as she was told that she was highly favored…well here it is again.  For those who are… charitoō…they will know peace. What keeps us from knowing Peace? Maybe, not realizing God’s Grace. Like the bumper sticker says: No Jesus-No Peace—Know Jesus…Know Peace… Finally, Luke records: 

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”   Luke 2:15 

That is where we embark on our advent journey. Let’s go… and see. As we experience…may we be prepared for an encounter…that whatever level of fear/worry/troubles you currently possess that you can find true peace in a baby sent to bring New Life.. in a Manger that can restore and nourish Your Soul..for the Glory of God













MAGNIFICAT (Luke 1:26-38)

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Magnificat—The Song Mary Sings after she agrees to serve God in a very significant way. It makes me think of last week if you were here you heard a great message from Bobby Hantelman (our incoming Lay Leader) celebrating the Laity of our congregation. He spoke of transformation that has been experienced by individuals & by the congregation as a whole. All by doing the same thing Mary was asked to do (serve) and then complying. Just as Mary did..and we rejoice just like her. 

In Luke’s telling of this story he records: 

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph

 Now for most of us we are very familiar with the Xmas story…the idea that Jesus was prophesied to be born from a virgin…problem—no word for Virgin (as we know it)…the Greek word is the same found by comparing the LXX (Septuagint-Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) from Isaiah’s prophecy. Isaiah foretold Jesus birth saying: 

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a  son, and will call him Immanuel.  Isaiah 7:14 

The Hebrew word used here is the word translated “Virgin” means Very Pure. I remember several years ago doing the South Beach Diet. The author said use Olive Oil (in almost everything). Then I went to the store and there was…Olive Oil, Virgin Olive Oil & Extra Virgin (Extra Pure). A place for Jesus to be born “Extra Pure”…before there was a stable or a manger..there was Mary.


Then Luke introduces us to this person who would be called by God for a very special task. Luke tells us:   

The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored!  The Lord is with you.”   Luke 1:27-28 

Highly Favored…(In Greek Charitoō χαριτόω )More Grace that you can imagine. The great mnemonic for me to remember this is my granddaughter Karis (meaning Grace) and the vehicle her parents bought to cart Karis around was..A Tahoe) So..Karis-Tahoe. Maybe this is the theme of Christmas. God has sent his son to the world. Emmanuel…more Grace than we can imagine. 

Then Luke continues showing the significance of Mary’s favor. He writes: 

You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  Luke 1:31 

We discover that Mary is to give the child the name…Jesus (in English) Yeshua (Hebrew-meaning the one who saves/or savior) we generally don’t think of babies or little kids as saviors…but how many of us when we were kids (maybe when our mother wasn’t looking ) grabbed a towel & a clothes pin & pretended to be super heroes???  Jesus/Yeshua, would be …& Is The savior of the World. 

In the Midst of all this is Mary..a Young Girl (specifically chosen by God) & Is the case with many teenagers she has her doubts…Luke tells us: 

How will this be,” Mary asked the angel ? Luke 1:34a 

What would our response be? Does this ever happen to us. Are there events…circumstances in our lives that we question God? When WE have OUR Doubts? Then God comes through with answered prayer after answered prayer…And you may ask how? God answers our prayers the same way he answered Mary’s. When we surrender our fear..our doubt to him. When we learn to rely on him..and he offers the same help he gives to Mary—Luke says:


 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.    Luke 1: 35 

The Holy Spirit-the one who transforms our lives…makes a way where there isn’t a way. Brings to mind things we need to pray for..to ask for. The same Holy Spirit that allowed Bobby to talk about how he have each observed  the Holy Spirit working in their lives and in others in our congregation. 

Then finally Luke shows us how a Young Girl makes a very mature decision as an example for us all. Luke records: 

I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her. Luke 1:38 

I am the Lord’s servant—So many of us have heard that call and are hearing that call. Many people stepping into new roles the beginning  next year. What a great time of Celebration as we serve God together in this place. Just like Mary with the help of The Holy Spirit…We answer His Call and say..I am the Lord’s Servant..May it be as you have said. For the Glory of God.