When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Let's go to Bethlehem! Let's see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.
(New Living Translation)
There they stood. They had just had the most magnificent experience ever. Was it a dream? They could have stood around analyzing the event, that unbelievable magnificent event, for hours or days. They could have just had the experience and gone back to work, watching sheep be sheep.
But they didn't. The shepherds did two things. They went at once, hurrying along to the place where the angels had directed them, and just as the angels had said, they found Mary and Joseph. And guess what? There was a baby lying in a feed trough just as the angels had said.
When you're relying on hearsay, it's nice to have reliable sources. These shepherds were taking a big chance of following the advice of their collective vision - of the angels. Had they just imagined them? Were these real angels? And what about that bright light? Maybe it was a solar flare or a meteorite exploding. I'm sure they discussed a lot of this as they went to see this tiny baby.
But they went. They didn't just stand around looking at each other, waiting for someone to take the first step. They went with joy, and they saw exactly what the angels had described. And then, they went around telling everyone about this marvelous little baby and the announcement of the angels.
What about us? And what about this Christmas?? Will we come to hear the announcement of Jesus' birth afresh? Will we experience God's amazing love for ourselves and then just go about our business? Or will we go about telling others about Jesus' birth and about just how much God loves all of us?
Go tell it on the mountain. On the seashore. Across the plain. And everywhere in between. God's love has come to us in human form. God has demonstrated love to us in the little baby in the manger. Don't just stand there! Go tell somebody. Jesus Christ is born.
Jan McCoy is associate pastor of First United Methodist Church of Covington. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.