"Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you. You will find a 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, goo will toward men!" So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds." Luke 2:8-18
How startling and amazing it must have been for the shepherds when God announced the good news of Jesus to them. Not only were they lowly men tending sheep, but it was the dark of night, and then suddenly it was very bright as the angel appeared before them and the glory of the Lord shone around them. Added to the initial shock and fear, a multitude of the heavenly host joined the angel and began praising God.
To say it was a life changing moment would be an understatement.
They were so amazed and convinced, they left their sheep to go see for themselves. What utter joy they must have felt when they found the baby in the manger, just as the angel had said. After seeing him, they made it widely known. They didn't keep the information a secret.
Can you imagine how disappointed and discouraged they would have been if the manger had been empty?
I ask the question to point out a problem I see in so much of our modern day celebration of Christmas. Although we celebrate with lots of lights and zeal, and a passion for gift giving, I sometimes feel as though the baby in the manger is missing. It is certainly true in the public arena.
More often than not, snowmen and candy canes have taken over in shopping areas and cities in an effort to be PC. After all, we wouldn't want to offend anyone.
But I am offended. This is my holiday.
Christmas is about Jesus and the wonderful gift God gave us that night so many years ago.
I may not be able to change the tide of public opinion but I can make a difference in the space around me. When I am wished "Happy Holiday", I can smile and say thank you, and then say "Merry Christmas". I can ask those I encounter what is special to them about this season, and after carefully and seriously listening, I can share why I love Christmas. I will wear my "Jesus is the reason for the season" pin and look for opportunity to explain to those who want to know the true reason behind all the lights and noise. I will not allow the Grinch of political correctness or public opinion to steal my joy.
I will go boldly and expectantly to the manger and celebrate the babe who lies there with His arms open, waiting to embrace all who come. And after a time of worship and adoration I will once again head back out into the world to proclaim the good tidings which is for all people.
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!