Luke 2:8-9 And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.

Time and again, the scriptures remind us that we have eyes that we can see, and ears so that we can hear. Time and again we come to the text, and we see things that we never noticed before. We might talk about the old, old story of Jesus and his love, but its not old to us, each time we hear it is new. Sure we like to hear the Christmas Story, it is a wonderful story of promise fulfilled- but it is more. It is hope, it is for us – not just a promise to people long ago – but it works on our hearts, softening them, making them clean and new and pouring into our lives the love of God.

There is another theme that goes through scriptures, part of the story of God at work in history – it is a theme of watching, and listening (which mean once you hear, then you do – that is you obey), and finally giving thanks – that you have seen that God is not far off, but very near, and this God who is near is a God who is working for your good.

This is what brings us to our text, for when it comes to Christmas, it is important to have the eyes and ears so that we can see it as though for the first time. And one of the questions that comes up – is the obvious - Why the shepherds?

They watched - They listened - They went - They saw - They told - They gave thanks

Is this important? I think so! If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to see it, does it make a sound? It came to pass that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but who was watching – and if no one saw it, how would anyone know it had happened. Jesus is a lot more important than a tree in the forest, many people had hope to see that day when the savior of the world would come. And while a star might guide wise men from the east – it would be some time before their arrival. Its as though everyone was deep in slumber –everyone except the shepherds who were keeping watch.

So the angel of the Lord appeared to them telling them the good tidings of great joy. But it almost didn’t happen, for though the shepherds were watching, this sight frightened them – and if they had run away – then they would not have heard the good tidings of great joy. But they didn’t run away, they listened. Now there are a lot of people who think listening is letting things go in one ear and out the other – but that’s not listening, that’s NOT hearing. When the angel left, what did the shepherds do? First they checked with one another, to be certain they all heard the same thing, then they went to see this thing, which had come to pass. When you really hear, it moves your to action. But it is also the case, if you don’t go, sometimes its rather hard to see. They went and they saw – and it was just as it had been told unto them.

And that could have been the end of the story – but when you see something really great, you don’t keep it a secret, you tell. And so the Shepherds told, and all they that heard it wondered at what they heard – that is they were amazed that such a thing was happening. It may have woken some people from their slumber, and others became more watchful. But there is one more part to the shepherds story, for when all this was done, they gave thanks – thanks to God, that the promise had come to pass, a Savior had been born – thankful also perhaps that God saw fit to tell them of this wondrous event, after all, most people didn’t think shepherds were particularly important, and they might have been some of the last to know – rather than among the first .

And it might be nice to hear again the Christmas story – but what does it really say to us? Is it here, so that we might also notice the shepherds example, that we might follow in their foot steps – it is a good day to journey, a good day to meet our Savior, and to receive the gifts he brings. And perhaps some people will say of us:

They watched - They listened - They went - They saw - They told - They gave thanks

For the savior of the whole world has been born this day – for us and for all. Amen.