Pohutukawa Coast Presbyterian Church
Clevedon Presbyterian Church
Kawakawa Bay
Clevedon Kidz

Christmas Crisis Part 3

December 6, 2020
Mark Chapman

Isa 40:9-11 Jerusalem, go up on a high mountain and proclaim the good news! Call out with aloud voice, Zion; announce the good news! Speak out and do not be afraid. Tellthe towns of Judah that their God is coming!  (10) The Sovereign LORD is coming to rule with power, bringing with him the peoplehe has rescued.  (11)  He willtake care of his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs together andcarry them in his arms; he will gently lead their mothers.

Luk 2:8-20  There were some shepherds in that part of the countrywho were spending the night in the fields, taking care of their flocks. (9)  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of theLord shone over them. They were terribly afraid,  (10)  but the angelsaid to them, "Don't be afraid! I am here with good news for you, whichwill bring great joy to all the people.  (11)  This very day inDavid's town your Savior was born—Christ the Lord!  (12)  And this iswhat will prove it to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying ina manger."  (13)  Suddenly a great army of heaven's angelsappeared with the angel, singing praises to God:  (14)  "Gloryto God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom he ispleased!"  (15)  When the angels went away from them back intoheaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and seethis thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us."  (16) So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and saw the baby lying in themanger.  (17)  When the shepherds saw him, they told them what theangel had said about the child.  (18)  All who heard it were amazedat what the shepherds said.  (19)  Mary remembered all these thingsand thought deeply about them.  (20)  The shepherds went back,singing praises to God for all they had heard and seen; it had been just as theangel had told them.


Christmas Crisis 3

December 6 2020


May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen


What is it that takes a man, a woman, a child, and turns their hearts

with longing for some other reality

something that science

or what is called fact

leaves them with an emptiness?

For after all of science and a so called reality

there remains within the human heart a longing for something more,

and a memory of something other

a true home and a true love

a voice within, an invitation that demands an answer

a moment of crisis calling us to a realm of belief.


This message that has haunted some of us

and haunted me all my life,

a message that has shaped who I am

and how I understand God.


A message: Good news of great joy – for all people!

To you is born this day in Bethlehem a saviour who is Christ the Lord

and you will know that it is good news for you for you will

find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth

lying in a manger.


And so this same message comes to shepherds with a sense  God’s presence

and the presence, joy.


And you, I’m sure know the feeling, as

their whole world lights up,

as joy surrounds them and bubbles out of them.

And the heavens, the cosmos is alive with joy

as of the singing of angels.

And these shepherds know

they are surrounded by divine love

as the mystery of God becomes for them a reality.

Not science

not fact as we would call it

but something more real and truer.


Such, the shepherds discovered!


Oh, they knew about God,

they had heard the stories,

but the God they knew was the possession of the religious elite

and they knew, they were told that

where God was concerned

shepherds were the nobodies at the bottom of the heap.


God there may be, but He’s not for us.

We live on the edge

caring for the sheep of the villages.

We don’t wash and we smell something awful.

We don’t sit at fancy tables

we eat rough on the ground

and women visit us sometimes….

and there are rumours that we are thieves.

So a God there may be,

but best we stay hidden if we can

for they say God is wrathful and would destroy sinners such as us.


God is for the good people,

the religious people,

not shepherds.


But I wonder if you and I were shepherds

on a hill outside Bethlehem,

would we maybe experience some times at night

when all is still and the sheep are safe in their folds

and a million, million stars fill the heavens.


And sometimes we would wonder, wouldn’t we,

if behind this vastness there is something other?

A heart that beats for us,

and that life is more than surviving

and maybe we wonder about that inner sense within us,

some kind of longing

that on nights such as this,

is sometimes awakened?

And the God question came to mind

and we we began to wonder what God was like.


And maybe if you and I were these shepherds?

Would you maybe remember

how when that sheep got separated from the flock,


How you had gone out in the heat of the Judean wilderness

and found it nearly dead

vultures circling

and you carried it home

because if you didn’t,

if you didn’t rescue it, it would die?


Or maybe that time

that ewe had died giving birth and you gathered up her lamb

and nursed it to health

and found another mother for it.


Or that time when that sheep had got caught in a wadi

the current carrying it under

and we had gone in after it and saved if from drowning.


So we begin to wonder,

what if God is more

like a shepherd, a good shepherd that would lay down his life for the sheep?

What if God was like us shepherds?


A God who would seek out the lost sheep

so that it wouldn’t die alone.


God like a shepherd who knows the names of his sheep

and whose sheep know the sound of the shepherd’s voice

and will follow him?

What if God was like that rather

than this punitive picture some of us have been given,

of anger and punishment.

And we remember a picture, a song from long ago

where a shepherd had written a song.

A song with words that ran,

The Lord is my shepherd – I have everything I need.

And even if I go through the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid

for thou art with me!


What if God was like that?

A God who when I am lost restores me

brings me back to Himself?

God as a shepherd? Surely not possible?


Yet, for such a God I long

as we sit on the Judean hillside

fellow shepherds.


And then He is there.

In this mysterious way, God is there

the Good Shepherd is there breaking into our lives

with profoundness that

suggests we should fear

but a word that says – Fear not.

I am here with good news for you.


In all this vastness

there is a heart that beats for you

there is One

who is more like you

than you could ever imagine.

One who is more like a shepherd than a high priest

or religious leader.

One, who even as you would lay down your life for a sheep

will lay down his life for you.

Who will never stop seeking you out

because you are His beloved

smelly or not

on the edge or not

rejected by decent people or not.

You shepherds are beloved of God

the sheep of His pasture

God who carries the lambs in His arms

and gently leads their mothers.


Crisis time.


Do I believe this good news of great joy

or not?

Do I believe that I matter?

Do I believe that there is One who holds me in life and death.?


Do I believe this good news of great joy.


Shepherds – how you respond

will make all the difference in this world and the world to come.

Will you believe – believe that you and those you love are held

because the shepherd is good.

And live ever free from fear.

Or will you say – this can’t be true

we can’t be that special that God would come to us.

We won’t be fooled

we are just, nobody shepherds.


If we would believe that, God would have to come as a nobody, a nobody shepherd

or a peasant child

like the ones born tonight down in the village.


If God was for us, we would need a sign

we would need to see He was one of us.


Then comes the angelic response:

This will be a sign for you.

You will find a baby

wrapped in cloths

sleeping in a feed trough,

in a peasant home.

To such a house you will be welcome.


So it is written:

When the angels went away from them back 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."  (16)  So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and saw the baby lying in the manger; it had been just as the angel had told them.


So shall we too

hear this good news of great joy!

You are beloved of God

the God who comes.

This, “wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly….

God is not ashamed of the lowliness of human beings.


Nor shall his love ever leave you

nor His hand not hold you

in life or death.


This good news of great joy for all people.


Now unto God the Father, God the Son and God, the holy Spirit, be all the honour and glory, world without end. Amen

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