Why This Jubilee? Shepherds




A sermon preached by Joseph Welker, Jr.

Why this Jubilee? Shepherds

Luke 2:8-20

December 11, 2016

These notes are intended for distribution to members and friends of the Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church family. While effort is made to give credit for work done by other, the notes may use material for which appropriate credit is not given. Also, the notes may differ from the actual sermon as it was delivered. Remember, sermons are meant to be preached and are therefore prepared with the emphasis on verbal presentation; the written accounts occasionally stray from proper grammar and punctuation.

Always, always, year after year… we find ourselves back here… Always, year after year… we enter the season of Advent… God trying to get our attention… trying to break through our busyness and parties and shopping and traffic… the texting, Facebooking, and amazon shopping… the card writing… I sort of feel for God… how will God break through all of that?

Always, year after year, God is trying to break through the end of year pressures at work and school… the deadlines… all the deadlines… and then there is church… all of our activities…well intentioned… but still busy…

Maybe you can sympathize with the anxious note written to baby Jesus:

Dear Lord, I feel tired before it’s even started.

The cards (should I bother?)

The presents (who to buy for?)

The decorations (real or artificial?)

The family (enough said)

The crowds, the hassle, the weather-

Wake me up when it’s all over.

I know I shouldn’t feel this way

But if I’m honest,


It makes me weary just thinking about it… 1

Every year God works to break through all of that with a simple message… meant to lift the burden… trying to share the message given to those shepherds long ago… living and working in the fields day in and day out… just doing their job… God wants to share with them and with us, the

“Good news of great joy for all the people… to you (to us) is born this day… that day long ago… a Savior who is the Messiah the Lord… “

You may remember that later he would grow up to say, “Come unto me all you who labor and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest…”

How will God do this? Often, as we are hearing this morning, God uses song.  That is true in the Christmas story…. As if to make sure they (and we) don’t miss the point… God sends a heavenly host… a choir of angels—who have been practicing for this moment to break through from heaven to earth… to praise God and sing: “Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace among whom he favors”

It is then… after they have heard the angels sing… that the shepherds are moved to drop what they are doing,  to leave the flocks behind (risking losing sheep left alone in those fields)… all in order to see this thing that has taken place….

So often for me it is music that opens my soul to hear what God is doing…

That’s why on the day after Thanksgiving (and not a day before!) I pull out my CDs (and some of you your mp3s) … and begin listening to Christmas music… God breaks through to a soul that has carried many a burden… feeling all lost and alone… with a song to remind us:

“Good Christian friends rejoice with heart and soul and voice… Jesus Christ is born to save…”

And the burden becomes a little lighter…

I open my CDs and think of Mom as I listen to one of her favorites—sung at her funeral:

While shepherds kept their watching
Over silent flocks by night
Behold throughout the heavens
There shone a holy light…

The shepherds feared and trembled
When lo above the earth
Rang out the angel chorus
That hailed our savior’s birth

Go, tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere
Go, tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born

I hope you know that today, the music you hear is not a concert… it is a gift of God… it is an angelic message God is using to try to break through to us… God wanting to reach deep into our souls to tell us: no matter our condition, situation, station in life… no matter what burdens you are carrying,  there is good news of great joy God is sharing for us and all people… to you and me and the whole world, Christ the Lord is to be found here… bringing peace, hope, love and joy… This is good news indeed!

News that when you hear it, you will want to share… it is that good… news that will put a song in your heart… And who knows… maybe like the shepherds, when you go back to your routine… who knows… you too might be joining the shepherds and return, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Amen!

1 Peter Thurston