December 13, 2015 | text: Luke 2:8-20
I had a high school biology teacher that believed science was all about vocabulary. If you could define the terms you were most of the way to understanding the science so we started each week with a list of terms and definitions and ended each week with a quiz on those terms. When I taught history my students defined terms and names for each section of the text but that’s not usually how I like to start to a sermon. Today is the third week of Advent and in this case a look at some dictionary definitions might do us some good.
The angels brought the shepherds good news; that’s the Gospel! They brought good news of great joy. Miriam-Webster.com defines joy three ways:
What the angels proclaimed to the shepherds that night was a source or cause of delight to be found in a manger in Bethlehem. The emotional state spoken of in the first definition depends on circumstances. Same with the state of happiness; whether or not we are happy at any given moment depends on a variety of factors. Every day is not going to be a good day and no one (even if they claim otherwise) is always going to be happy. But in Jesus our Savior we have a constant source of delight. God came into the world to become our peace that surpasses understanding. Our hope is not in an economy, an army, a business or own success. The world we live in is sinking like the Titanic but if we had hope in this life only we would be above all others most miserable. Jesus is the hope of the world, a light in the darkness, a strong tower, the Word of God and his name is Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
The shepherds received the Good News and did three things. First they said “Let us go over the Bethlehem…” They didn’t stand around in the field rejoicing they had seen angels; they obeyed the instruction sent to them by God. They were told to go and they went. When they found the baby and his parents they “made known the saying that had been told them.” In other words they shared the Gospel. They received the Gospel and went and shared the Gospel. Freely you have received, freely give. And finally they glorified and praised God as they returned. They were filled with joy and gave God the honor and glory. They vocalized their praise toward the one who is worthy. The psalmist wrote that we are to “enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.” In short they worshipped God because of all they had seen and heard.