Sermon for December 8th, 2019
8In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
The Friendly Beasts: Sheepish Ramifications
I said the sheep, with curly horn I gave Him my wool for a blanket warm He wore my coat on Christmas morn I said the sheep, with curly horn
Baaaaaaa! [Sheep pokes head out of hiding]
Is it safe to come out yet? Are the angels gone? Don't be afraid, they said. Baaaaaa!
Tell me this...what would you do if you saw the whole choir flying around 50 feet up in the air, in the middle of the night, singing halelujah? I'll tell you what you'd do. You'd fertilize the paaaaasture, just like I did, that's what. Don't be afraid, my aaaaaaanyhow, I guess it's safe enough, here in the stable.
Donkey over there thinks he's pretty smart. And cow over there, well, he don't seem to think much at all. And then there's the baby. [sighs]. The baby...
Well, maybe now we all finally get some-- AAAAAAAAAAHH!!! WHAT WAS THAT NOISE???
What? I'm a sheep! I get a little nervous when I'm away from the rest of the flock. But somebody had to stay behind, they said. Somebody had to keep an eye on the baby, they said.
We came all the way from Maaaaaaaamre, three nights ago, when those angels appeared in the sky and said we would find the baby wrapped in cloth. Well, there's the baby. There's the cloth. And here we are. [looks around nervously]
I got a baaaaaaaaad feeling about all this. What if the shepherd doesn't come back? What if the cow eats the baby? What if--what if that star falls out of the sky and lands on the stable and it catches fire and burns us all to a crisp???
What? I can't help it. I'm a sheep! We have a long and distinguished history of being very, very afraid. And for good reason. We listen to the stories the shepherds tell.
The very first shepherd was Abel, and he was killed by his brother, Cain.
Abraham was the father of many nations, and he almost sacrificed his son, Isaac. Instead, he sacrificed a ram.
Moses helped his people escape from slavery in Egypt, but they needed a sign to put over their doorposts so the Angel of death would pass over their houses. Hmmm...what to use for a sign. How about the blood of a lamb? And you wonder why we ain't so fond of Angels? Or passover?
Job was a righteous man who found favor in the sight of the Lord. He had seven thousand sheep. What a lucky guy. He had some rough times, but he came through in the end. You know what happened to his sheep? Fire came down from heaven and burned them to a crisp, all seven thousand of them. You thought I was kidding about that star up there!
King Solomon, he was a great king. He built the temple in Jerusalem. It was magnificent! And so to celebrate, he threw a party. You know, invite some people, sing a few songs, sacrifice one hundred and twenty thousand sheep...
Look. Sheep don't got claws. We don't got sharp teeth, neither. Yeah, we got horns, but what exactly is it they're pointed at? Not so helpful, those! Some animals can hide real good, blend into their surroundings. But if you look like a giant, white, fluffy marshmellow...that don't work so well, ok?
All we got--us poor sheep--all we got is each other, the shepherd, and a thick coat of wool to keep us warm at night. That's it. And I don't got no shepherd right now. I don't got no flock. Just wool. Yes sir, yes sir, three baaaaaaags full. And it sure is cold tonight.
I can hear that baby crying again. What's so special about him, anyhow? The angels called him Savior. Messiah. Lord. One of the shepherds said he was the son of God. Another said he was the King of Kings.
[Sheep goes over to manger]
Look at him. He don't look much like a king, does he? Wrapped in cloth? More like raaaaaaags. Lying in a manger? Sounds like a good way to get eaten by a cow, baby. I'd be crying too, if I were you. All that straw, poking and scratching...
Don't cry, baby. You don't want to be a king, anyhow. All they do is fight wars and build temples. Don't do that, baby.
You want a nice job for a human? Be a shepherd. Be a good shepherd. The kind that loves his sheep, and knows them just like they know him. Be the kind of shepherd that comes back for his sheep, even if it's only just one that's left behind, lost and all alone. Be the kind of shepherd who would lay down his life to protect that sheep from danger. Be that kind of shepherd, baby.
And be...be a good man, too, baby. If someone is hungry, feed them. If someone asks you to walk with him for a mile, walk two. If someone asks for your coat...well... It sure is cold tonight, isn't it, baby?
Well. You have many years to go before you can be a man, or a shepherd. Tonight, you are still a little baby. Look at you. No claws. No sharp teeth. No horns. Not even curly ones.
I know what you are, baby. Tonight...you are a little lamb.
[Walks away, then suddenly stiffens]
What's that? Do you hear that noise? Someone's coming!
It's...it's the shepherd! He came back for me! He came baaaaaaack!
Goodbye, baby! Good--
[Stops. Looks at shepherd, then back at baby. Slowly, quietly, walks back to manger and removes woolen coat. Places coat around baby in the manger.]
Sleep well, lamb of God.