Listen ... and act!
We’re journeying through December toward Christmas, so I invite you to consider some of those who journeyed to see the newborn king. Those shepherds in the wide open fields were the first to receive the message of God’s great action of grace. Their lives were repetitive, perhaps even monotonous. Most every day looked the same. And then they received news that changed their lives … and the world! They received, listened and responded.
Maybe you’ve heard it said that there is a huge difference between listening and merely hearing. When you listen, you receive the meaning of the message and process it; you are likely to take action based upon what you have heard.
The Shepherds were the first recipients of the good news: “Today, in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. …”
After receiving the message, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened.” They listened. They received the message. They acted in response by going to find Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
Clovis Chappell was a noted preacher about 75 years ago. He wrote a story from the perspective of a shepherd who was there that night, heard the message, but elected not to go to Bethlehem with the rest. He thought it better to stay in the fields as usual.
In the story, this shepherd shares how the others came back rejoicing and how they spoke about finding the child in the manger just as the messengers had said. The shepherd who stayed behind expresses regret. “I wish I’d gone that night, but I missed it.” Hopefully, Chappell’s story has caused people to pause and reflect, “I don’t want to be like the shepherd who missed out.”
We don’t want to miss the news of Christmas!
The call still comes to us every Christmas: “Born unto you is a Savior who is Christ the Lord.” We are called to not only hear, but to listen.
When Jesus grows up and teaches the Sermon on the Mount, he says that people who hear his words and put them into practice are like a wise man who built his house on a rock. May we be people who are listening for the Lord! We are called to truly listen to the Good News!
When we, like the shepherds of old, fall down in awe, wonder and commitment before the manger of God’s love, Christmas comes once again. May you truly experience Christmas this year! Listen: Born unto YOU was a Savior!!! And that is good news to bring great joy!