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Christmas Day sermon 25 December 2013 – God chose who?

Readings:  Titus 3:4-7; Luke 2:8-20


We’ve looked at Mary through these weeks – her soul and spirit response to God’s call on her and the awesome responsibility of being mum to Jesus.

We looked at Joseph too – a man of God so open to God’s word and direction – a loving righteous man not wanting to submit Mary to public disgrace.

Last night we looked at the inn keeper  – and asked ourselves about our own openness to Jesus and His family – and by implication to all people in need of shelter and protection – the least of His little ones or brothers. Whatever we do to them – we do to Jesus! What a responsibility!

Today we look at the shepherds.

God chose them – angels spoke to them – and they too were stunned.

Matthew Henry says they were sent to: “…poor, humble pious industrious shepherds, who were in the business of their calling, keeping watch over their flock”

He goes on to say that we are not out of the way of Divine visits, when we are employed in an honest calling and abide with God in it”.

There are simple things we can learn from these illiterate and simple men:

  1. 1.      God gets their attention – and they investigate further.

15 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.’

There is no mention of who keeps watch over their sheep!

Simply an urgency:

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.

  1. 2.      God speaks to whom he chooses – and often outside of the religious establishment.

I’m not a fan of organised religion. That sounds odd really because I live indebted to organised religion.

The point is SYSTEMS and IMPORTANT PEOPLE are not always the vehicles through which God moves and acts.

The people in Jerusalem who advised Herod knew that Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. But they didn’t make the 7 or 8 km journey to see. They were too busy with their systems.

(Nicky Gumbel – story of the Anglican warden who tapped a man on the shoulder and said:  we don’t do that here” when he raised his hands in worship. The man said “but I’ve found the Lord” to which the warden replied “well you didn’t find him here!”)

God sovereignly spoke to these shepherds – it was all unexpected.

Let’s watch this kids production “An unexpected Christmas”. (Video)

An unexpected Christmas

Surprises galore! (Key line – they’ll not be expecting that!)

  1. 3.      Good news is always worth sharing – and it’s normal to do so! 

The passage goes on to say:

17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. They were evangelists – they shared good news! And people were amazed – at the story, and you can be sure – t he story tellers themselves! Shepherds – seeing holy visions? What’s up here?

  1. 4.      Worship and praise are an appropriate response to this story! 

Suddenly Luke returns to Mary – who in his words:

19 But Mary “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

 Then he goes onto the shepherds again:

20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

It was back to work for them – but to be sure their attitudes were changed!

God spoke

They investigated


The implications – that the Lord shared the good news with THEM and they weren’t in a trance or imagining things.

This was the real thing.

When we walk away from listening to this story – what is the impact on our lives?

A great question!

Only you can answer that. But God surely knows your heart – as do you.


Christmas Eve sermon 24 December 2013 – any room?


Titus 2:11-14 and Luke 2:1-14


So how much room is there in your home and heart for Jesus?

Let’s watch this video!

The kids play is pretty direct – especially the people shutting their doors on Jesus!  No room in the inn – the doors kept shutting.

But there was a plan!

GOD”S PLAN seldom lines up with ours. We sometimes think that our spiritual lives have no connection with the ordinary things and the people around us in the world – with our political systems – our finances – our social lives – the complications of our society today.

It may seem to some that Christians hide away in church from all of this. The point is – it is all God’s! God’s world and God’s people.

Paul writes to Titus and reminds him of this universal and international intention of God: 11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.

While we recognise that Mary and Joseph were uniquely open to God – other people who probably weren’t that open are also used by him:

  • Caesar Augustus for one – issued a census that meant Mary and Joseph would be in the right place for Jesus to be born – Bethlehem.
  • The innkeeper  – who did not recognise the significance of who these three were – yet made a plan out of compassion – and set the tone for Jesus’ life amongst ordinary people and creatures of the earth.
  • The shepherds – not your average literate bible-knowing church goers of the day. God gets their attention  Why? Because he uses humble ordinary people for his purposes. The first visitors model for us the simple obedience that should be ours. More about that tomorrow!

The innkeeper – the man who made a plan – who could have been a kiwi with a “she’ll be right” attitude – organised a place where God affirms the simple things of creation and the humility of this new King. An upside down Kingdom indeed.

Are you prepared to go to any lengths to let Jesus in? Are you really wanting him in your life – in every part of it? There is a danger that we leave Jesus outside of those places that we regard as not very spiritual.

Well he made that stable a palace. And he can make your workshop, your garage, your office, your street – a place where his presence is known. And especially our homes. What a comfort to those who live alone –  through choice, circumstance, bereavement or poverty. We can have this Son of God right there with us. Psalm 68:6 is such an encouragement – “God sets the lonely in families”. The church can become such an extended family.

There needs to be room for Him in our inns of every shape, size and description.