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Seeds of the Kingdom

Amazed At What They Heard

by John Berry

25 December 2015

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When (the shepherds) had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.
Luke 2:17-18, NIV

If a bunch of very excited shepherds turned up on my doorstep, and told me they’d seen angels, who’d told them about a brand new king who’d just been born and put in a hay trough, I would have been a bit sceptical. Kings don’t usually get born in cattle sheds or stables, and they’re not often announced by an angelic choir –literally that is.

Why couldn’t God have done it “properly”, with great drama and pageantry? Surely people would have taken notice then! Well the strange thing is that people did take notice of what the shepherds told them. Perhaps it was so radical that the neighbours realised the shepherds couldn’t have made it up, and why would they anyway? Whatever the process, the testimony of a group of simple sheep-carers had a powerful impact, such that all who heard it were amazed.

What a contrast with the reception we get in our day and age, when we try and share the Good News of Christmas with those around us, at least here in the UK. Our publicity for Christmas services hardly meets with an overwhelming response, and the Gospel message is often met with apathy rather than amazement. I, personally, haven’t seen many people coming to faith in Christ through a Christmas carol service or similar event. Perhaps the story has lost some of its dynamic power because we, who’re telling it, have grown too used to it, and it’s not so amazing to us anymore.

A song I heard some years ago has this refrain: ‘It’s Christmas. It’s Christmas. It’s Christmas. Celebrate the season, sing the song of the Son’. After all, isn’t that what Christmas is all about – the song of the Son? Jesus came as a humble, human baby, in the poorest of circumstances. As an adult He was recognised by those of faith as the promised Messiah, who would save His people from their sins. But He was persecuted and driven to death on the cross. Death was not the end, however, and He rose victorious, so we, who believe, might be freed from the effects of our sin, and receive an eternal place in the Kingdom of God.

Now that’s truly amazing, and it’s something to get excited about. Maybe it’s time for the ordinary folk of the Kingdom to get up and share what God has told us about this child, to give our testimony to the transforming power of the Gospel in our lives, and to bring the amazement and wonder back into our telling of Christmas again.

I’ve been leading Christmas services for nearly 40 years now, and certainly some have been blessed by God. But, this Christmas, perhaps the glory of the Lord will shine through the telling, as we speak about the reality of the Christ of Christmas in our lives. Let’s get a bit more ‘shepherd enthusiasm’ into our proclamation!

May God give you a Happy Christmas and bless us all with His amazing presence once more.

John Berry entered the Baptist Ministry more than 40 years ago, and joined the Team at Ellel Glyndley Manor in 2007 with his wife Jennie. They have both now retired from the team but remain as part of the Teaching and Associate Ministry Teams at Glyndley. John and Jennie have seven Grandchildren.

 

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