Part 2: The Shepherds (Luke 2:8-20)
I’m happy to welcome Pastor Brad Twitty to our WholeLifeWorship Blog team! Brad will be sharing part 2 in our series of how we see WholeLifeWorship principles being lived out by people in the Christmas narrative. Brad is the Associate Pastor of Adult Ministries at Community Church Rancho (formerly CBC) and we are very close friends. Brad and his wife, Alison, live in Fontana, CA (we’re neighbors) and we both are proud dachshund owners (BarkLee and Albie are BFF’s). More importantly, they are expecting their firstborn in mid-March! Let’s welcome Pastor Brad as he shares with us today. – DL
I really love Christmas! It’s my favorite time of year, favorite season, and favorite holiday. The reason I love Christmas so much actually has less to do with gifts and food (although, I’m not one to turn down either!). My love for Christmas has more to do with the traditions my family has created over the years. I love the tradition of totally redecorating the house, getting the tree set up perfectly, watching Christmas movies, reading Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol, and making the perfect batch of hot chocolate!
Those are just some of my “have-to’s” for this time of year; it doesn’t count all the other stuff going on: family Christmas gatherings, work parties, getting Christmas cards ready, and shopping for others are things that take up our time during the Christmas season.
But as a person committed to living out WholeLifeWorship (thanks, Pastor Doug!) I often wonder if I allow the traditions and cultural expectations of the season to be “about” Jesus, but not “with” or even “for” Jesus?
Recently, when I read the story of Jesus’ birth, I was drawn to focus on the shepherds. Luke 2:8 tells us they were just doing their normal everyday job. Then something spectacular happened in the middle of their work shift: they witnessed heaven and earth collide. An angel tells the message of the Savior’s birth, and then comes the angel choir worshiping God’s act of redemption! When the moment was done, the shepherds wasted no time in responding to what they just witnessed: “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about” (2:15). LET’S GO!! It’s as simple as that, God moved right in front of them, and their response of worship was “let’s go!” That is Whole Life Worship!
This captured my attention because I often wonder if I’m missing moments where God is moving right in front of me? Do I give God enough attention to even notice what He is doing around me? And even when I give God the attention, do I have the courage to respond with “let’s go?”
I appreciate the shepherd’s role in Jesus’ birth story is because it wasn’t something they were prepared for. Mary and Joseph had nine months of pregnancy to prepare for Jesus. The town of Bethlehem knew well in advance that the census was coming and prepped for more people to arrive. Even the Magi, who saw the star, took months (even years) to prepare for their visit to Jesus.
But the shepherds were given no notice. They left their sheep and went immediately to where Jesus was born. Some of our best acts of WholeLifeWorship are the ones we didn’t prepare for or expect. When God moves in a way that disrupts our normal routine and we act in obedience, those are the moments we will remember for the rest of our lives.
As I reflect on this past year, I can’t help but wonder about missing amazing encounters with the living God simply because I wasn’t willing to say, “Let’s go!” Did I miss out on a moment to witness a great heavenly host praising God because I either had no room available in my life or wasn’t willing to be flexible? The reason this thought consumes my imagination is simply because I desire to have a worship experience the like shepherds experienced. I want to encounter Jesus in a similar way. I long to see God’s “something more” happen in my life!
On some level I know I’m beating myself up about it, maybe you are too? This is precisely why of the love the principles of Whole Life Worship. The truth is God is moving around us all the time, the real question is if we can implement a rhythm in our lives that creates enough space for us to notice? As we are in the thick of the Christmas season and a lot of our schedules are full of hustle and bustle, can we get off the cultural holiday “hamster wheel” and be more like the shepherds? It might mean saying no to some awesome Christmas traditions or skipping out on that party you normally go to this time of year. Remember, we are saying no because we are anticipating saying yes to something better. A true glimpse of God moving, or a heavenly host opening the heavens and praising our Creator.
My hope and encouragement for my Christmas and yours is that we reduce the amount of things in our lives that are about the world’s expectations of the holiday, or even things that are just “about” Jesus. Rather, let us experience more moments “with” and “for” Jesus. And when we witness it, may we respond with “let’s go!” For WholeLifeWorship is all about responding to what God is doing right in front of you, right now!
So, what is God doing right in front of you today, and are you willing to say… let’s go?
Enjoy Christmas, everyone!
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