Pastor Brian K. Brown, St. Mark M.B. Church
When Hope Invades the Night – Luke 2:8-17
Even in pandemic and troubled times we praise God for He has been good and done all things well for us and is worthy to be praised. The story in today’s text reminds us that no matter how difficult our days have been we can celebrate the hope of Christ.
For the lives of shepherds, the most dangerous time is at night when predators attack. The enemy does some of its most dangerous work under the cover of darkness. But in the text the night yielded hope. We find ourselves in the dark but it’s time to let the light of hope invade our lives. Sometimes we can’t appreciate all that light brings without going through the darkness. Christmas is a time to be reminded that God turned on the light in our dark room.
The question asked of the scripture is ‘what can we expect when hope comes calling?’ The first expectation is that ‘troubles are expelled’. In the text angels descended and light was shone. Even before the light, the shepherds had trouble upon trouble before hope arrived. With the light hope brought with it something to dispel anxiety. The angels’ message was to stop fearing. When we are worried, we need to stop troubling ourselves and fear not. We should remember that fear is false evidence appearing real. As long as we accept the false narrative, we will always be fearful. Faith tells us this too will pass, and God will be faithful. God erases issues that cause us trouble when we allow hope to come in. No matter how dark our circumstances, when hope come in it can allow us to rewrite the story. The hope light is still on we don’t have to stay in dark places forever.
The second expectation from verse 15 – ‘travels are expanded’. Prior to the light, the shepherd’s perimeter was only around the livestock and they went over and over the same track. When the light came in, they discovered that it wasn’t enough to see the same thing over and over. They now had the opportunity to break out of the old pattern and do something different. When there is an absence of hope we do things that cause boredom. But when God invades our spaces and brings hope perhaps our travels can be expanded to see more, experience more and do more. Hope can show us that there is a big world out there and we haven’t experienced our best experiences, there’s more to learn and that God can expand our travel.
The third expectation from verses 8, 16 and 17 – ‘trust is experienced’. In verse 8 the shepherds were keeping their flocks by night, in verse 16 they left their flock to see Jesus born in a manger in Bethlehem and in verse 17 they left the manger to proclaim what they had heard and saw. But in all of this they were still shepherds so what about the flock? Who was watching the flock and keeping them safe from predators? Their chief responsibility was to safeguard the sheep, but they left them to see the lamb of God. So, who was watching the flock? God. Some of us are consumed with taking care of what we have determine to be priority but when we have hope that God is bigger, more powerful and that He knows what we don’t, we can turn these things over to God and He will protect them while we learn what we need to learn, live and go where we need to go. Trust is what God needs us to do.
The shepherds call was to watch over the sheep but when God called them to go see Jesus, God kept watching where he had always been watching. We shouldn’t think that if we don’t do it won’t get done. It was never us doing it, it has always been God. When God calls us to do something other than what we’ve always done we should not be slow to respond but be like the shepherds who made haste to see what the angels, had told them because they trusted God. God wants us to know that He has all that we’re worrying about. The more we are infused with God’s hope, the less worrying we do about the things that worry us.
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