A reflection on Luke 2:20 for Christmas Day, December 25, 2020 at Mosaic Baptist Church
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Luke 2:20 (NRSVA)
Our text for this Christmas Day is short and sweet.
It functions to round off the account of the shepherd’s involvement in the story of the birth of Jesus. They are not referred to after this.
Their return, however, to their fields is not the end of their role in the incarnation. We are told that after all they had encountered over the last few days they continued ‘glorifying and praising God’.
We can underestimate the importance of this sentence. The phrase ‘all they had seen and heard’ reminds us of to their important place in Luke’s account. The shepherds are witnesses.
But what will they do with their experience once they return to their flocks? They have already testified – and we can rightly assume will continue to be a witness to these events. Perhaps we are even reading their account as relayed to Luke through Mary or another. We can be sure that the story they tell spread.
Yet they do far more than simply tell their story to others.
The shepherds worship.
Worship is our response to God for the grace of God. These shepherds choose to glorify God for the invitation heaven made to them.
We worship at every moment. This seems to be why the Bible has so much to say about idolatry. As a working definition, an idol is any good gift of God that we place above God.
An idol is something displacing God.
These sheep herders experienced many of the good gifts God offers. They have glimpsed the choir of heaven. They have discovered – before most – the Christ. They have known the joy of sharing their story with others.
None of these, however, become the object of their worship. They don’t make an idol out of the song the angels sang. They are not puffed up by being chosen to gaze upon the Christ before others. They are not worshipping themselves by boasting about the impact of their account.
On the contrary, these workers seem to hold these gifts of God in perspective.
The gifts are not more special than the one who gave them.
And so they worship this one. No replacement. No substitute. Nothing less than the creator of the universe is worthy of their worship.
We are prone to worship the gifts of God, I suspect, because they are a little easier to grasp than the majesty of the Almighty. They are smaller and make us feel bigger.
And our smallness can lead us to fear.
Or – in the right place – awe.
So, may you feel small before the incarnated God this Christmas – and not fall before anything else!
When have you felt ‘awe’? Do you think this pointed you to God or to something less?
Do your moments of worship help you hold perspective on the gifts of God?
When and where are you most likely to truly worship? When are you least likely to worship?