>The following is the third of three reflections given at the Hillsboro UMC Christmas Eve service on 12/24/2008.

How is it that one night can profoundly change the course of the world?  How is it that one newborn baby can be so important that a host of angels will sing praises to the Almighty God because of his birth?  It is because when God fulfills His promises, He does so in a big way, even though it starts small.  When God fulfills His promises, the very heavens are amazed and praise His holy name, but the rest of the earth simply goes on, life as normal.  God didn’t send Jesus with fanfare and a megaphone.  It wasn’t a spectacle that was on display for the world to see.  The Son of the Most High came into this world with an announcement to a group of shepherds who were out taking care of their flocks.  He was born at night while the rest of the world around him slept – life as normal; though, on that night, it was anything but.  Life itself was anything but normal on that night.  Life itself was given a new sense of normal on that night.

A group of shepherds were the first people to hear of this incredible event disguised as the ordinary.  After all, what is so special about a young woman giving birth in the town of Bethlehem?  To those who may have been present at the birth, it was just another newborn.  And, yes, each and every newborn is special, but there is nothing earth-shattering about it.  But for this group of shepherds, there was nothing ordinary about it.  We’re going to do a quick survey here.  All those who have had the birth of an unknown child announced to them by an angel of the Lord, please raise your hand.  It’s not too common.  The shepherds knew right away that there was something different about this baby.

As soon as the angels went away, the shepherds hurried to Bethlehem and found Mary, Joseph and the newborn.  I get the sense that the shepherds told everyone they saw along the way too.  Can you imagine the expression on the face of the shepherds after the visit from the angel?  I can see all of them standing around, staring at one another, asking, “Did you just see that?”  After all, if just one person had this vision, they could have been dreaming or hallucinating; however, with multiple people seeing it, there is a sense of unbelievable wonder.  They had a profound encounter with God, and this is the type of encounter that generates excitement, and when you are excited about something, it is hard to not tell others about it.  It comes up in your daily conversations, you look for opportunities to share it with others – you make opportunities to share it with others.  It becomes a priority.

This Christmas, we remember the birth of a Savior.  If that’s not exciting news, then I don’t know what it.  That is news worth sharing with anyone and everyone.  It is the news that God Himself broke into our ordinary lives and did the extraordinary – He came that we can have a personal, intimate relationship with Him.  This has to be something that you decide to enter into – you can’t ride in on someone else’s coattails, or sit in a pew every week and just assume that you have this relationship because it’s simply not there.  You don’t have a relationship with somebody just because you know a couple of their friends, and you don’t become a mechanic by spending a couple of hours in the garage each week.  But the exciting news is that this relationship is readily available.  All it takes is you realizing the simple fact that you can’t do this thing called life on your own.  You weren’t meant to, and you don’t have to.  You were created to be in a relationship with the God who created all thing and because of Jesus, whose birth we celebrate this week, that relationship is possible.  Now, that is some exciting news worth sharing.