8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”
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.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 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. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 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.
What is a miracle? Something wonderful, dazzling and spectacular. When what we thought was impossible becomes possible. What catches us unexpectedly, totally by surprise. Miracles can be all these things.
When we experience a miracle, we do this thing. We don’t think about it. We can’t hold back either. We REJOICE. We celebrate. We even laugh, cry, or become speechless. That’s the way we respond to miracles.
When she bore a son in her old age, Sarah laughed. She even named her son Isaac, which means ‘he laughs’. It was a different kind of laughter than the one she had when God first told her that she would have a child. At the time, she laughed because she thought it was ridiculous. Now, she laughed because she was filled with joy. What she thought to be ridiculous actually came true.
Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”Genesis 21:6,7
Last Sunday, Argentina won the World Cup. It was a nail-biting match against France. It was as if someone wrote how it was going play out. The win was extra special because of one person – Messi. It secured his legacy as the greatest soccer player ever. He had won every award there is, except the World Cup. The team played their best, but none of them could guarantee that they would win, not even Messi. I’m sure the whole thing seemed like a miracle to him. He couldn’t stop smiling like a child.
When there is a miracle, there is joy. There is light. There is hope. There is peace. There is rejoicing and celebration.
Christmas is a miracle. Perhaps the most beautiful miracle of all. God came to be with us in Jesus, just as he had promised. God came into this world as a human being. God did the unthinkable. God made the impossible possible.
It wasn’t only Mary and Joseph who rejoiced at this miracle. In Matthew, we see the wise men celebrating with them. In Luke, we see the shepherds celebrating with them. They are the focus in today’s passage. We see the host of angels rejoicing and praising God. The celebration isn’t just personal and private. The entire community gathers to celebrate together. They all see what God has done in their midst.
Through miracles, God opens our eyes. God makes his presence known. God strengthens our faith.
Through celebrations, God brings his people together. God reminds us that we don’t rejoice alone. God shows us how connected we are to those in our broader community.
The shepherds were just doing their thing. They were watching over their flocks. They didn’t know anything about Mary, Joseph, or even Jesus. Yet it was because of the angel that they heard about what was happening.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”Luke 2:10-12
Not only were they told of this good news, but they saw with their own eyes what they had been told. They saw Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus in a manger. They all met each other for the very first time. That was a miracle of its own. They rejoiced together.
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.Luke 2:20
Today, Jungsup will be receiving his baptism. Baptism symbolizes God’s gift of new life to us. Through baptism, we receive this gift and entrust ourselves to God as we walk with him in this new life. In that sense, today is a very special day for Jungsup.
But his baptism won’t take place privately. We will be there as well. Baptism takes place in community. The entire community takes part in one person’s baptism. They promise to guide and nurture that person as they embark on their new journey. The entire community celebrates together, because they see and rejoice over what God has done in that person’s life. In that sense, today is a special day for all of us.
On Christmas, we celebrate the birth of a new life. We celebrate what God has done in our lives. We celebrate the greatest miracle of all. Let us rejoice in God. Let us be thankful and hopeful. Let us share and spread the joy around us. We are not alone, but together. We are together because God is with us.