Many of you know that Mark and I are expecting our first Grandchild in April. Due to the wonders of modern technology, we already know that the baby is a girl, and because we know that, her parents tell us that her name is Avery.

As one might expect, we are very excited about the idea of meeting Avery sometime in the middle of April, so much so that I will be having other people on call with an appropriate sermon for any Sunday in April, so that Mark and I can leave immediately when we get the phone call that Avery is on her way, hopefully arriving in Torrance before her birth. It’s a 4½ hour drive, so we will want to get on the road right away.

That’s what we do when we get an urgent message that something big is about to happen, isn’t it? And that’s what the shepherds did too. They didn’t know ahead of time that this strange evening when the town was crowded with people coming home for the census would change the world. But Mary and Joseph had advance notice about the special child that Mary carried. They knew that he would be a boy, and that the child would be named Jesus. They didn’t need fancy ultrasounds and lab tests to discover these things. An angel appeared to Mary in Luke’s Gospel, and to Joseph in Matthew’s Gospel, and the instructions were clear to each of them. You are to name him Jesus.

Mark and I have been amazed at the proliferation of seemingly necessary items required to raise a child today. Jesus didn’t have any of them. Mary gave birth in a stable, and laid the child in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn, let alone baby swings, or bottle sterilizers.

So the shepherds were out in the field with their flocks, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified but the angel tells them what God says to people over and over again: “Do not be afraid.” And then they are told that this is the day when the Messiah is born, and they will be the first to greet him. They will. The shepherds who were considered so unimportant that they weren’t even going to be counted for the census. And then there was a multitude of the heavenly host declaring peace to those in God’s favor.

Well, when the angels had left, the shepherds were ready to go too. The CEB translation of the Bible says they said “Let’s go right now!” Presumably, they left their sheep unattended, because nothing was more important than seeing that baby as soon as possible. Who knows, maybe they took the sheep with them, since the child was, after all, in a stable. But they went with haste, and told others about what the angel had said. People were amazed, but Mary treasured these words and pondered them in her heart.

All babies change the world for the people who are closest to them. Even this one took time to grow. Robert Redman says “The first baby steps of the infant Jesus were the fulfillment of the age-old covenant promise (from Leviticus 26:12): ‘And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be my people.’” Imagine that. The savior of the world taking baby steps!

And so we say that the light has come into the world with this child. And perhaps slowly at first while he grew, and then more suddenly, that light continued to expand, sweeping aside the darkness wherever it went. The work isn’t finished yet. There are still dark places and now its our turn to make sure that the flame is fanned so that the light continues to grow. But the light has come into the world. Let’s go right now and see how we might fan the flames in the year ahead. Amen

Let’s Go Right Now!

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