The Glory of the Lord

As I usually do at Christmas time, I was reading again the story of the birth of Jesus in Luke 2. Isn’t it amazing that this story never gets old? I’m in awe of how God chose to send his promised Messiah to earth. Never in a million years would I have thought of doing it the way he did it! And yet, it’s absolutely perfect! I mean really, a young virgin girl, an honorable Jewish carpenter, humble shepherds minding their own business, a world totally unaware of the amazing thing that was happening, an evil king who had to be outwitted by a group of wise men from the east, a bright star that led those same wise men to see the Christ-child, and a proclamation by a host of angels. These are the things of which movies are made! But let’s take a closer look at those humble shepherds….
The Bible says while the shepherds were doing what shepherds do, watching their flocks, an angel appeared to them and then we read, “And the glory of the Lord shone around them.”  Have you ever tried to picture what that must have looked like? Those shepherds must have been awestruck! We read similar experiences with Moses on the mountain waiting for God’s commandments, and then again with Stephen in Acts as he was being stoned by the religious leaders. The glory of the Lord is a powerful image for sure, but I have a feeling we often miss other experiences of the glory of the Lord. A beautiful sunrise or sunset, a baby being born, a miracle of answered prayer, a wayward child coming back to the fold, a lost soul being converted to faith in Jesus Christ, all of these show us a glimpse of the glory of the Lord. 
 
When the shepherds saw God’s glory and heard the message of the angel, they responded in four specific ways. First, they were willing to obey. Don’t gloss over this fact! Many of us really struggle right there – having a willingness to obey what God has shown us. Let’s face it, our wills can be pretty stubborn. Scripture tells us that they immediately said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened…”  Secondly, they actually followed through and did what they said they were willing to do. Again, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. You all know that talk is cheap. We can all talk a good game but are we willing to actually get up and go? We see here, “they went with haste.”  Thirdly, they were so moved by the glory of the Lord that they had to spread the news. The Bible says, “When they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning the child.” I have a feeling they made known more than the saying. They were likely telling everybody what they had seen and heard as the glory of the Lord shone all around them! Oh, that we today would be as excited about sharing with our friends, neighbors, co-workers and family about the glory of the Lord! And lastly, these humble shepherd’s lives were changed forever. It says, “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen…” I have a feeling the next several nights were not nearly as boring as they talked among themselves. They probably even stole a glance heavenward every so often to see if that angel would reappear. 
 
What about you and me? As we gaze into this story and celebrate the birth of Jesus this Christmas, will we be awestruck with the glory of the Lord? Will our lives be changed and our hearts emboldened to share this story with others? It is my prayer that we will. Merry Christmas to you all!
 
Pastor Jim