For me, one of my favorite Christmas decorations is our family’s nativity set.  Each piece is hand carved and it came from Oberammergau, Germany.  The carver crafted the pieces to be sold by The Moravian Bookstore, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  Deb and I have been collecting it piece by piece for the past two decades.  Each year during Advent, I spend some quiet time in front of it thinking about those who were at the birth of Jesus.  What were they thinking?  What did they see?  What kind of feelings were going through their hearts and minds?  What did they say to one another?       

      Each one who visited the manager on that first Christmas had the privilege to see Jesus – face to face.  That, in itself, is amazing.  They were not only looking at a little baby, nor just looking at Mary and Joseph’s son, or the newest child in Bethlehem.  They were looking at the Messiah – the King of Kings – the Savior of the world!  For myself, when I’m setting up the crèche, I get to see hand carved and painted figurines with Jesus being one of them.  But for Mary and Joseph, and the shepherds who came running from the fields, they got to see God – face to face. 

      After Mary experienced the birth of her child, we know that she took time to ponder, consider and process in her heart all that she had heard and seen.  We aren’t privileged to know through the Scriptures what Joseph did immediately after birth, but God revealed to us what the other visitors to the manger did.  Saint Luke records:

 So the shepherds hurried off and found
Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was
lying in the manger.  When they had seen Him,
they spread the word concerning what
had been told them about this child, and all who
heard it were amazed at what the Shepherds said to them.
(Luke 2:16-18)

       The shepherds saw God, face to face, and then were moved to do something.  They had to tell other people about their experience.  Maybe you have never thought about the shepherds this way, but in reality, they were the first witnesses of Christmas.  They were the first witnesses of Jesus – God in the flesh. 

       Yes, the gift that was laid in a manger is God’s gift for you – a gift of grace, mercy, forgiveness, and hope.  That baby born in a stable is God with us.  He is able to break the forces that place us in bondage and condemn us to death.  He is able to forgive our sins and transform our lives no matter what our past may look like.    It is also God’s desire that you share this gift with all.

       So, listen to the angels’ instructions again as they speak from the night’s sky.  Look into the manger again this Christmas to have your questions answered and your doubts removed.  And then, with the determination of the shepherds, go to where God sends you and share that God has come to you and the world with His good news:  “Jesus, the Savior of the world, has come!”

Like the shepherds, may each of us be a part of God’s witness team “Making disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”


Now, back to our decorating,

Pastor Tim