“When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go to Bethlehem, buy Christmas cards, and presents for everyone, including some we hardly know. Let’s put in extra hours with the sheep; for we will need extra money for celebrating. So they came in a hurry (harried and tired) and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the Manger.” We mirror this broken bible passage today. In-between Christmas music, radio stations are playing songs like, “Worn,” and encouraging us to rest. We hurry past the King in the manger on our way to celebrate. We bypass the Sovereign one slipping past the simplicity of the story.
We are being seduced; “But I am afraid that, even as the serpent beguiled Eve by his cunning, your minds may be corrupted and led away from the simplicity of [your sincere and] pure devotion to Christ.” I’m guilty. I do it with the Gospel adding law to a simplistic, “confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Such simplicity; the easy burden Christ gives compared to that I choose to carry myself.
He carries the governments upon his shoulders. He gives me an easy, shared, yoke to bear. His request is an easy, “Follow me.” Life is so cluttered with all the stuff I think I need. Security and control. Shepherds, wise-men, fishermen, tax-collectors and prostitutes gave up ‘me’ to follow. Gave up herds and jobs; 401Ks and imagined security to follow the one whom, ‘emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.’
This angelic visit to the shepherds is a hat-tip to Moses whom God has called the most humble of men. Its that humility that frames Jesus coming. The attitude of Mary, the stable, the announcement to the shepherds and the response of those who recognized their spiritual poverty. He became poor that we might become rich. So they gave up themselves to find fullness and peace in Christ. For the following is both intentional and simple.
Simple in that we recognize we have nothing and He is fullness, “For in Him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form…” Intentional because we give up self and seek to stay as close to Jesus as we can. Only in that place can we find peace and rest. For the control is truly never ours. The grasping and holding tight never satisfy all our yearnings. “He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself…” For there is born for you a Savior who is God Himself. In His fullness and kingdom, we find rest. This is Christmas.