December 24 & 25, 2019

2019 Dec2425_FrIan

A Sermon Preached by The Rev. Ian M. Delinger




OK…I have a high school English Lit question for you: Who is the main character in the Gospel Story? Who is the protagonist?


Before I tell you the answer, let me share a few insights with you. When looking for Nativity Scene clipart, the vast majority is of the Holy Family. That makes sense. They are always framed by what could be construed as an outhouse, a building completely unsuitable for either animals or people, let alone both! If there are more characters than the Holy Family, it’s usually the Wise Men. (More on them later.)


Moving over to high art, it’s the same: Holy Family and Wise Men. As you scroll through more and more photos, more and more characters are added on, usually animals.


So, back to my main question: who is the main character in the Christmas Story? It’s the SHEPHERDS!! The Angels visit and speak to the Shepherds. The Shepherds visit the Holy Family. The Shepherds go and tell what they had heard and seen.


Yet...YET!! In Nativity Scene clipart and high art, the Shepherds are often left out or on the sidelines. Animals feature more often…with no one taking care of them! The Wise Men feature much more prominently than the Shepherds…and they didn’t even show up for about 3 years! I looked at 2 lists of the most famous Christmas Story paintings, and of the 2 lists, only Giorgione’s “The Adoration of the Shepherds” had Shepherds in it – based on the title of the painting, it’s a good thing there are Shepherds in that painting!


In the story set for Christmas’s all about the Shepherds!! But they don’t seem to get our attention to the degree that they deserve. Even the drummer boy gets his own song, and it’s pretty popular, and he wasn’t even there! We like to focus on the “high profile” people, like the Wise Men because they brought fancy gifts…even though they don’t even feature in Luke’s Gospel. The fact is: The Shepherds are the most important people in this story next to the Holy Family, and they are the main characters.


So, let’s look at what the Shepherds did, what made them so amazing. After the Angels sang to them, the Shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see what’s up.”


  • So, they went with haste and found Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.
  • Then, they told Mary and Joseph that the Angels told them that the Baby Jesus was the Savior, the Messiah, the Lord. Y’know…they knew this was a big thing…not something that happens every day…Angels appearing and God coming into the world.
  • Then Mary treasured THEIR words. The person who brought God into the material world treasured the words of these ordinary sheep herders.
  • And then, the Shepherds went and told everyone else about this amazing event: Jesus, the Son of God, had come into the world!
  • The people who heard it were amazed.
  • The shepherds glorified and praised God.
  • No doubt, their lives were changed forever.


In the Christmas Story, as it is
told to us in the Bible, the main
character isn’t actually Jesus.


The main characters aren’t Joseph and Mary. It’s certainly not the Wise Men because they aren’t even in the story, and neither is the Little Drummer Boy. The Angels get a pretty high billing. But the main characters in this story are the Shepherds – This is their story.


Why is this important? Because it shows us the kind of people Jesus came into the world for, the kind of people for whom Jesus will be the Savior, the Messiah, the Lord. Jesus – who is God – came into the world for the everyday, common person, the person who is just like you and me. Jesus doesn’t belong to the elite, the rich, the powerful. Quite the opposite. Jesus belongs to everyone who will receive Him, and, to those who will tell others about Him – The Shepherds!


So, there are 2 things I want you
to take home with you
this Christmas:


  • The Shepherds were the first evangelists. They told everyone who would listen about what they had heard and seen…and the people who listened were amazed!
  • The Shepherds were everyday people just like you, and they were the most important characters both, in the Christmas Story, and for getting out the first message that God had come into the world.


You/We are like the Shepherds – the everyday people for whom Jesus came to be Savior, Messiah, Lord. The Incarnation wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for us. God didn’t come to earth as a human being just for the Wise Men, for the Angels, for the donkeys. He came because of the Shepherds, the everyday person, FOR YOU! So,


  • 4pm: like the Shepherds summoned to His cradle, may you thither and bend your joyful footsteps to take Jesus into your heart and share this good news with the world.
  • 11pm: open your heart to prepare Him room, and along with heaven and nature: sing this good news to the world.
  • 9am: Know that Love came down at Christmas, know that Love be yours and Love be mine, know that Love / Jesus is our plea, our gift our sign.


On behalf of the entire St Stephen’s Family, whether you are part of us at this service, or part of us longer term, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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