Monday, December 28, 2015

December 26-28, 2015 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Matthew 1:1-16 “WHAT’S IN A NAME?”

December 26-28, 2015
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Matthew 1:1-16


          OK, true confession time. I hope I’m not the only one. So you are reading your Bible. You know it’s God’s Word. You know He will use it to strengthen your faith. You know it’s good for you. All of it. But then you run into one of those sections of the Bible. Maybe it’s a listing of the tribes of Israel and what they brought for offerings and for all of them it’s the same. Maybe it’s a listing of the names of the fighting men from each tribe and the numbers of soldiers. Maybe it’s a genealogy, a tracing of the family line that I just read to you. And you think, this is all the same. I’m just going to skip it. Aargh! The conscience kicks in. This is God’s word. The Spirit reminds you that all Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. The Spirit reminds you that Jesus said to diligently study the Scriptures because they testify about Him. Breathe. OK, OK I need to go through this with respect. What does God want me to know? Please tell me I’m not the only one who feels like this!
          Well here we are this morning with one of those sections of Scripture. It’s God breathed and useful. It testifies about Jesus. It’s a listing of names. What does it say? In your bulletin the names have been separated in case you want to jot some notes.
Matthew 1:1-16 (NIV1984) 1 A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David,

          Matthew’s Gospel was written originally for the Jewish people who needed to know that Jesus was the Messiah they had been waiting for. That explains why when you read the whole book there are so many quotations of Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah with a corresponding event from the life of Jesus showing He is the Messiah. It also explains this genealogy. It’s going to follow the line of Joseph, Jesus’ stepfather, but more importantly for Jews, his legal father.

the son of Abraham:
It starts with Abraham. What do we know about him? Married to Sarah, a man who could show great faith and great weakness. He trusted God and went when he was told to move to an unknown land, he prayed for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, he lied to and deceived the ruler of Egypt instead of trusting God, he and Sarah tried to help God by jointly agreeing to and carrying out adultery with Sarah’s servant, he was willing to sacrifice Isaac trusting God had the power to bring back from the dead.

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, Pretty good kid, trusted his father’s judgment even though it looked like he would be sacrificed, obediently married the woman his father picked out for him, didn’t want to pass the blessing to Jacob like God had ordered

Isaac the father of Jacob,  Jacob, there’s a mouthful, name means deceiver, lived up to his name deceiving dad, brother, got deceived by Uncle Laban, married two wives, played favorites with his kids, trusted God’s message in a dream at Bethel, fervent prayer

Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, sometimes a good son but had poor judgment, visited a prostitute and got her pregnant, only it wasn’t a prostitute it was Tamar, his daughter in law whom he was treating poorly

3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez we don’t know a lot about, other than as was mentioned his mother tricked his father by pretending to be a prostitute

Perez the father of Hezron, just a name in a genealogy

 Hezron the father of Ram, just a name in a genealogy

4 Ram the father of Amminadab, just a name in a genealogy

Amminadab the father of Nahshon, he is described as a leader of the people of Judah, sounds like a good reputation

Nahshon the father of Salmon, We know he married Rahab, she was the one who had kept the house of prostitution when the spies came to Jericho but was converted to faith in the LORD

5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz is famous and an upstanding man who we learn about in the book of Ruth because he married Ruth

Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed was the first son born to Boaz and Ruth, we know nothing more

Obed the father of Jesse, now we’re getting back into familiar territory, Jesse had the 8 sons and the youngest became the most important

6 and Jesse the father of King David.  Lots about him, God called David “a man after His own heart” that’s high praise and there are all kinds of examples in the Bible of David humbly acting in faith and then there are his acts of pride and what’s mentioned next, the time he committed adultery with Uriah’s wife Bathsheba and then tried to cover it up by having Uriah killed in battle.

David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife, Solomon, he humbly asked for wisdom and was given that and more by God, great wealth, he ruled a large kingdom but this wise one showed a lack of wisdom by marrying 700 wives and keeping 300 concubines. His wives led him away from the Lord.

7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam, he was a foolish and evil king

Rehoboam the father of Abijah, he was just as bad as his dad only without Solomon’s wisdom

Abijah the father of Asa, Asa is described as a good king who wanted to please the Lord.

8 Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, also a good king except for his alliance with evil Ahab of Israel

Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, he was such an evil king God gave him and incurable disease of the bowels

Jehoram the father of Uzziah, Uzziah serve the Lord 52 years as king

9 Uzziah the father of Jotham, another God fearing king

Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz was an evil king

Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, Hezekiah served the Lord. If you remember he was the one who prayed for longer life and God granted him 15 more years!

10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, became king at age 12 and the Bible records he was involved in all kinds of detestable practices.

Manasseh the father of Amon, another idol worshipper. He was assassinated.

Amon the father of Josiah, Josiah was 8 years old when he became king. He loved the Lord. At his time the Old Testament Bible which had been unused for years was rediscovered and Josiah worked hard to lead his people back to God.

11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.  The ruling of the kings ends as Jerusalem is conquered and many of the people taken off to Babylon.

12 After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, All we know is he was the father of next guy

Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, He was a leader for God’s people when they returned from exile.

13 Zerubbabel the father of Abiud,
Abiud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
14 Azor the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Akim,
Akim the father of Eliud,
15 Eliud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
All these are just names recorded in a genaology
16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, Joseph we just heard about. Remarkable faith to stick with Mary. A good earthly father.

Now all Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of god may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. What can we learn.

One, you can’t hide your sin from God. I wonder what they would say if Abraham and Jacob and David were asked what part of their histories they wanted written in the Bible. Lord, don’t tell them that. Now they don’t care. We can hide our sin from other people. We can make our lives look so much better than they are on our Fakebook page or with our Christmas letters, but God knows the truth of us. And He loves us anyway.

Two, acts of faith are pleasing to God and inspiring for other believers. Some of those names I read helped you remember their acts of faith, when they trusted God and His ways not themselves and their own ways. You found that refreshing and inspiring. We can learn from that.

Three, you are never a nobody to God. Some of those names I read barely registered. Some of you never heard them before. But God did. There are times in life when we can feel lonely and forgotten, left out of other’s reindeer games. Sometimes people will try to make you feel like a nobody, a failure, worthless. You’re not. God says so. Your names are written in the Lamb’s book of Life.

Four, it begins and ends with Jesus. Did you notice that? 1 A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, …of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. It’s all about Jesus. He came to be Savior. The punishment of our sins has ended with Jesus. The ability to live as a believer and do those acts of faith begins with Jesus. Peace with God because of Jesus. Confidence that the best is yet to come. Jesus. Knowing that the separation from loved ones caused by death is only temporary, a little while, in the big picture. Jesus.

          The Scriptures really do point us to Jesus and how glad we are for that. An honest look at ourselves tells us we are leftovers. We are what’s leftover when you take human beings who were created by God to serve Him perfectly and combine it with sin. But because of Jesus we know God loves to have us. Stay close to Him. Amen.

Monday, December 21, 2015


Hebrews 10:5-10When Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; 6  with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. 7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, O God.’ ” 8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made). 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Introduction:  Did you hear it? I did. Two weeks ago (Saturday, Dec. 5). They are words we’ve learned to expect every year prior to Christmas. They are words telling us about “the real meaning of Christmas.” Sometimes they say, “This is what Christmas is all about.” And then, probably in all sincerity, they will say that it’s all about huddling around a fireplace, spending time with family and loved ones, giving and receiving gifts, being kind to animals, or enjoying a tasty meal.  Let’s assume that these people mean well. But, honestly, we can do better than that. We don’t need to look very far to find an authoritative, trustworthy explanation about the real meaning of Christmas. Jesus himself tells us. And he does so in today’s text:
The Meaning of Christmas—According to Christ
1.      “Here I am! I come to sacrifice.”
2.      “Here I am! I come to sanctify.”
Part 1: The Meaning of Christmas: Here I am! I come to sacrifice.
1.      Look at the opening words of our text: “When Christ came into the world, he said . . .” Who is talking? None other than the Christ Child who came from heaven to earth and was born on Christmas. Jesus is able to communicate better than most newborns - being God before becoming a human explains that. Whom is he talking to? God the Father –we are being allowed to listen in on a conversation between the Father and the Son. What a privilege and opportunity to learn!
2.      And the message? First he mentions OT sacrifices: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire . . . with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.” Animal sacrifices were such a big part of OT worship – by God’s command. Sheep, goats, bulls, heifers, oxen, birds as well as bread and produce were constantly on the agenda of God’s people. Every festival day required at least 500 Levitical priests on duty at the Jerusalem temple – to slaughter and sacrifice the animals. Every godly Israelite was a “sacrificing” person – and the sacrifices pointed ahead to the ultimate sacrifice of the two-legged “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). But when Jesus himself came into the world it was different for him. God the Father didn’t want his animal sacrifices. What then? “But a body you prepared for me” says Jesus. Yes, a flesh and blood body. We call it Christ’s “incarnation” as he took on a real human body with fingers, toes, eyes, ears, and nose.
3.      Can you put these things together? (1) No animal sacrifice wanted, but (2) Jesus has a body. Jesus puts it together: ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, O God.’ ” 8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made). 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” The Father who doesn’t want animal sacrifices from Jesus gave Jesus a body. And that body is the desired sacrifice! In life (a life of pure worship and reverence, obedience, and faithful expressions of love) and in death (a death with the world’s guilt thrust upon him, involving being forsaken and separated from fellowship with the Father) Jesus is the sacrifice demanded. The Christ Child says, “Here I am! I come to sacrifice – to sacrifice myself!” This is precisely what was promised and foretold in the Old Testament, so Jesus also says, “It is written about me in the scroll.” In fact, what is said here in the NT Letter to the Hebrews is a repetition of what Jesus had said in Psalm 40, speaking through King David.
4.      Is this “real meaning of Christmas” clearly understood by people today? Generally, no. In fact all this talk about Jesus sacrificing himself in life and death comes off as “harsh, brutal, gruesome” to many. Actually, that is quite true. We admit that and have no desire to deny or obscure that truth. But the point remains – This is what Christmas is all about! We cannot and dare not separate the cradle and the cross. The dear, sweet, tender little body parts lying in the manger were designated as the supreme sacrifice to remove the guilt of a world that has rebelled against God. The blood flowing through the small veins and arteries of the infant is destined to be poured out on the cross. Even in his cradle and infancy, Jesus is the Lamb appointed for slaughter – and he knew it from the start. What is the value of seeing this? First, it impresses on our hearts and minds the necessity of taking sin seriously! If we don’t take sin seriously then most of the Bible really makes no sense at all. There would be no sense to the OT sacrifices, nothing important about God’s Law, and no value in Christ’s coming to earth as a human being. There would be no need for or value in the Gospel itself. In other words, Christmas (and Good Friday or Easter) would be insignificant events for our lives – mere distractions from our usual daily routine. But if sin is the worst thing about us and downright damnable to God, and if this Child is the key to having our sins and guilt removed so we receive pardon and reconciliation with God – then the real meaning of Christmas is worth remembering and celebrating.
Transition: And that is exactly where the final verse of our text takes us.
Part 2: The Meaning of Christmas: Here I am! I come to sanctify.
1.      What was the result of Christ’s self-sacrifice, his life of perfect dedication to God and his death of unimaginable separation from God? When he had done God’s will with his body, what then? The answer is given quickly: By that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. “We have been “sanctified.” The basic meaning of the word is to be “set apart” by and for God and his purposes. In its fullest sense, it involves being declared righteous in God’s eyes (“justification”) and also being renewed in godly desires and goals (“sanctification”). In this section of Hebrews 10 the emphasis is on justification, forgiveness.
2.      How do we know that? The context has to do with sacrificing and shedding of blood. In the previous chapter is the familiar passage: “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.” Something else points us to the miracle of pardon: it is done and in the past. We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ. It is not progressive or incomplete. Further, there is that wonderful phrase: “once for all.” Christ’s sacrifice of his body was done one time and for everyone, without exception. Forgiveness is not something that needs to be earned or finished or made real. It is like a fortune deposited into our bank accounts, in our names –faith acknowledges personal ownership and starts to use the fortune with joy. “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 Jn 5:13)
3.      At this point we can see how joy and celebration belong with Christmas. People who approach Christmas as nothing but a time to “eat, drink, and be merry” have lost most of their joy and end up rather depressed by the time the New Year arrives. To focus only on family gatherings, presents under a tree, parties, and bright, cheery decorations is shallow and unable to turn a sinner’s life on this sinful planet into something with enduring joy and contentment. But to focus on the reality and seriousness of sin, on the Baby Jesus as the God-appointed sacrifice to atone for sin, and to recall that he carried out this purpose perfectly, fully – that gives sinners joy that endures. And it improves the enjoyment of other seasonal activities like family gatherings, gift-giving, and social activities. The real meaning of Christmas enriches secondary meanings of Christmas.
Conclusion: “Here I am!” are the first words of the Christ Child to the Heavenly Father when Jesus enters the world. “Here I am!” to sacrifice myself and to sanctify sinners.  “Here I am!” among my people to the end of the age. “Here I am!” to comfort and encourage, instruct and guide whenever two of three of God’s people gather together in my name. That’s the real meaning of Christmas – and the whole church year. Brothers and sisters in Jesus, enjoy it! Amen.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Wednesday Advent 2, December 9,. 2015
Sermon by Pastor Paul Eckert
Text - Luke 2:8-14

   In our text we hear about an angel, and then a host of angels.  It
must have been a brilliant sight.  The shepherds had no trouble seeing
them.  That makes me ask, “Who here has seen an angel?”  Children,
in our school you have seen in your religion books how artists picture
them.   But have you, or any of us here, ever actually seen an angel?
    The Bible’s Old Testament has over 100 references to angels.  Some
who saw them were Hagar, Lot at Sodom and Gomorrah, Jacob who
saw a whole bunch of angels going up and down a stairway reaching to
heaven.  The New Testament has more references, almost 200.
    But Who of you here today has seen an angel?  The answer?  It is
possible that we all have seen angels, but without knowing it at all.  In
the Bible, the letter to the Hebrews (13:1-2), we are told: “Keep on
loving each other as brothers.  Do not forget to entertain strangers,
for by so doing some people have entertained angels without
knowing it.”  Have you ever helped a stranger in need?  Did you ever
get some unexpected help shown to you by a stranger?  Maybe an
angel was involved, and you didn’t know it.
    Now let’s get to our text where shepherds actually did see a great
company of angels, a heavenly host, and it quickly became obvious to
them that they were angels.  How?  Maybe especially because of
    1. The message came not from men
        a) the announcer was not some TV personality   
        b) the shining glory was not man-produced - no electricians had
            set up a generator or put giant spotlights in the fields
    2. This was from God (8-9)
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping
watch over their flocks by night.  An angel of the Lord appeared
to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they
were terrified.
        a) the angel came from the Lord, from heaven above
        b) and the glory that shone around them was the Lord’s glory
    3. It proclaimed a message of joy (10)
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.  I bring you good
news of great joy that will be for all the people.” 
        a) a good news message to remove more than their present fear
        b) for it would bring joy not just to those who had fear from
        being in the field, but to all who had fear from being in sin
    4. Here is our assurance
        a) the Christmas season is an extremely popular one
        b) is its real message just man-made, of human origin (like
            Christmas trees and lights, cheery Santa Clauses)?
        c) no!  the angel’s message came from heaven above
    1. Glory touched the earth here (12)
“This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in
cloths and lying in a manger.” 
        a) glory - though circumstances of Jesus’ birth did not show it
        b) yet message was actually one of glory - glory to God in
            the highest whose message was peace on earth to us people   
        2. The glory was that He came to be our Savior (11)
“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is
Christ the Lord.” 
        a) a manger for a crib didn’t show glory, and later the details
            of Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion showed no glory at all
        b) but being our Savior, definitely saving us, that was glorious
    3. Now we have peace on earth (14b),
“ --- on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
        a) Jesus’ mission was not to give us a Christmas season for
            party celebrations - we could skip that without any harm!
        b) it was to give the gift of peace between God and us by
            saving us from deserved condemnation because of our sins
    4. And that means glory touching us now already
        a) our outward circumstances may be difficult and dreary, even
            as swaddling clothes and horrible suffering showed no glory
        b) nevertheless as Jesus was glorious in His saving mission for
            us, so glory is present for us in the forgiveness of our sins; we
            now on this earth already have peace, “Peace Through Jesus”,
            as the banners in front of church display that message
        c) thus having peace on earth in our hearts is God’s glory shining
            into our lives right now, a bit like the angels’ shining clothes
            gave glory in a dark countryside
    1. The angels did not come to stay  (13)
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the
angel, praising God ---.
        a) a multitude of angels came to amplify the glorious brightness,
            like our Christmas tree will have many  bright lights shining
        b) but we know they didn’t stay in the fields with glory shining,
            even as we don’t keep Christmas lights on all year around
    2. Nor did Jesus stay visibly here on earth            
        a) the angels’ praise was for what God’s love would do through 
            Jesus His eternal Son, for God fulfilling His salvation promises
        b) once that mission was accomplished by Jesus on the cross and
            guaranteed by Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus did not stay here on
            this earth visibly either
    3. Now the angels’ message of praise went upward  (13-14)
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the
angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and
on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”       
        a) Jesus’ work to save us took place on this earth, and here
            already we have the wonderful peace of forgiveness of sins
        b) but the praise of the angels, their departure, and so also Jesus’
            ascension, pointed to something far better than this earth
    4. Where we shall be in glorified bodies
        a) how wonderful to have peace of forgiveness because of Jesus
            on an earth where there is constant warfare and fighting
        b) but how wonderful to know also that the end result of Jesus’
            mission is for us to be with Him in glorified bodies like His
        c) the shining clothes of the  angels pointed to this also, showing
            they had come from a place of glory to which we will be
            called through the Christchild, born to be our Savior

    Have you ever seen an angel?  Probably yes  -  but it was not
apparent to you.  Will we ever see a host of angels, as the shepherds
did out in the fields near Bethlehem?  Positively yes - but probably not
now.  It will be when we are in glory and see, as is promised to all
believers  in the book of Revelation (7:11-12) : “All the angels (were)
standing around the throne” and worshiping God, “saying: ‘Amen!
Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and
strength be to our God for ever and ever.’”

Thursday, December 3, 2015

December 2, 2015 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Luke 2: 8, 15-18 THE CLOTHES OF CHRISTMAS: THE WORKING CLOTHES OF THE SHEPHERDS

December 2, 2015
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Luke 2: 8, 15-18


Luke 2:8, 15-18 (NIV 1984) “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.“

OK, so how many of you have ever received clothes as gifts for Christmas? Next, how many of you like getting clothes for Christmas? I remember a time I didn’t like getting clothes for Christmas. When I was a young boy my eyes were set on all the toys we saw and circled in the JC Penney and Sears catalogues. I wanted fun things,  not useful things. I really didn’t like it when my grandma for Minnesota gave me a Vikings hat for Christmas. What do you do with that? Things change though and you do appreciate clothes for Christmas. This year for our midweek Advent services we are taking a look at the clothes of Christmas. Not those received as gifts but those worn by figures in the Christmas story. We begin by looking at the working clothes of the shepherds.
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.” In his Gospel Luke tells us about some shepherds. What were they doing? Keeping watch over their sheep of course. That’s what shepherds do. They were working. Why? Because it pleases God! In His wisdom when God created this world He created some animals that could not care for themselves, defend themselves or stay safe by themselves. One example of this is sheep. They are not good at caring for themselves. As an aside, if the lie of evolution were true, there would be no sheep. They are not an animal that survive with others caring for them. Since they need care the shepherds put on their working clothes and took care of the sheep.
You have working clothes too. Many of you are wearing them right now. All of you students who came here from school have your working clothes on for the work that you do now is learning in school. Teachers taught you. They are wearing their working clothes. There are others. And while some might think that we do work each day just to make a living or get by or because it has to be done, work takes on a whole new meaning when you do it for God. He desires that people stay safe and so today we have God to thank for the work of police and fire departments. God desires the sick be cared for and so we have all the jobs in health care. Banking and commerce need to happen and so there are all the jobs in those sectors. Children don’t stay safe by themselves and so there are mommies and daddies and child care workers. Even the retired have jobs. All kinds of them. They just don’t get paid. The next time you find yourself working with whatever kinds of work clothes you wear remember that you get to do it for God. He told us through Paul in Ephesians that we ought to work, doing something useful so that we can share with those in need. And to the Thessalonians, if you aren’t willing to work you shouldn’t get to eat and in Colossians to view your boss as the Lord. There is a time for working clothes.
But the shepherds left their sheep. “When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.” The shepherds took a break from their work. Why? What was so important? Jesus is. Angels had appeared to the shepherds and told them the Savior they were waiting for had been born. Off they went. Seeing Jesus was that important. How much the shepherds knew of Bible prophecy we don’t know but they were human beings. They had the natural knowledge of God. They had consciences that bothered them, guilt when they sinned. The Savior would take care of that. So off they went in their work clothes.
We do that too, don’t we? We take a break from work to see Jesus. It’s what we’re doing right now. Jesus is important to us. We all have different levels of understanding and knowledge of everything the Bible says. But we all have the same need. We are sinners in need of the Good News that we have a Savior. That Good News is available to us in the Bible but highlighted like it is in no other way when the church gathers to worship. That’s worth making the effort to go even if it means coming in your work clothes. When I grew up in Watertown I worked for some dairy farmers who were members of my church. If you know anything about dairy farming, it is demanding, hard work. The cows don’t take the weekend off. They don’t take vacations. They need to be milked every day. The dairy farmer has to do that. Calves don’t wait to be born. They come on their own time. But this Christian couple stopped and dropped what they were doing when it was church time. Jesus was worth it. Is He worth it to you? In these super busy times we live in we don’t want to get to the point that coming to worship is like stopping at Burger King where you only stop if you can have it your way and it’s convenient for you.
But you can’t spend all your time at church either. Neither could the shepherds. Back to work. That’s what happened with the shepherds. “When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.“ As neat as it must have been to see and hear the angels and to see their newborn Savior, the shepherds didn’t and couldn’t stay in Bethlehem. They left to go back to work and back to their sheep. But things weren’t the same for them. They had a message to tell. They spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child. They took Jesus with them as they talked about Jesus.
Back to work. That’s what happens with us too. Whether we are mommies and daddies, students or teachers, police, fire, nurses, workers, truck drivers, accountants or retirees God has useful things for us to do that help and benefit others and He wants them done well. But as you are doing them, as you are wearing your work clothes don’t forget that you have an even greater value to the people in your life than what you do to help them for earthly life. You carry Jesus with you and the message of the work He did, giving His life to save all sinners. Not every sinner you work with will appreciate knowing they have a Savior in Jesus but some will. As you wear your work clothes and do your work well pray for opportunities and look for appropriate chances to spread the word concerning the child. There may be workplace rules you have to follow but let your light shine and see what happens.
At this point in life clothes may or may not appear on your Christmas wish list. That’s up to you. Saving you was up to God and He did that in Jesus, a Christmas gift you already have. The working clothes of the shepherds remind us to take Jesus to work so that we can find joy in a job well done for the Lord and a chance to spread the word of the Savior who has been born. Amen.