christmas approaches.

by e

i look forward to Christmas. I always look forward to Christmas.

yes, maybe it’s much to early to anticipate the arrival of the most loved holiday of winter.

Mom said something really interesting over dinner last night. While the TV News was talking about the economy and christmas spending.. She said: “This year’s Christmas is going to be very different.”

And my initial reaction was, “Yeah, looks like there’ll be less Christmas shopping this year”

With the financial slow-mo and all, bet Hasbro and Bandai Toy’s are already in the work of producing budget toys already eh? or maybe piggy banks and mini-ATMs will be in the rage this year!

Yes yes, I know Christmas isn’t about commercials and gifts.

But inevitably Christmas would be different with the economic shaking… Yes, maybe credit cards will be nothing but plastic. Yes, no doubt this year some families will have to tide through the season without lavish spending.

I guess this will be the season where most people will begin to admit that they need help. And perhaps, they might admit that they need Divine help – God.

I guess this year desperate hearts will become ransomed hearts. This year Bethlehem’s star shines for those who seek the savior.

We never stop to wonder why the angel Gabriel appeared to the shepherds the day God in flesh was born eh? We tend to believe that Bethlehem’s made up of shepherds in fields and all. (Well i did.)

I did a quick google on shepherds and their appearance in the Nativity story.

And realised that shepherds weren’t exactly the best of people around the region. They were smelly, hard people, I mean they sleep with sheep in the open. Their jobs weren’t exactly glamorous – They had to take care of sheep 24/7. That means they missed Synagogue services and the major feasts.

According to the Jewish religious law, they were considered unclean, outcasts because they cannot keep the Sabbath due to their occupation. Oh, and the sheep that they lovingly look after? They’re destined for sacrifice. What do you think the sheep were for, shepherds will never eat their own lambs.

The sheep weren’t exactly their own as well. They are shepherds, not farmers, they watch over someone’s sheep, someone wealthy enough to own a herd of sheep.

So the shepherds were poor, uneducated, unclean and hard people. And Gabriel appeared to such people declaring good news.

That must be good news indeed for the shepherds, the Messiah is born, freedom for them!

Shepherds aren’t necessary bad people, some of them were kind, tender, strong and resourceful. Come on, they live in the open, and they have to defend the flock from predators, surely they are strong. They’ll never kill the lamb for a meal, aren’t they kind and tender? And they have to find water for the flock, even if it mean digging for it, their resourcefulness waters the flock.

But God didn’t choose the shepherds for their strengths. He choose shepherds to be the first witness of the birth of His son simply because He loved them.

Yes, He called the shepherds to spread news of the birth of the God-in-flesh. Yes, the good news was delivered by them. But God didn’t chose them for their eloquence. In fact, shepherds aren’t even allowed to bear testimony in court as their words aren’t consider trustworthy.

Isn’t it like God to choose the lowly to shame the strong, the wise and the haughty.

Poor, sinful and needy people. God invited them first and before expensive gifts given by the Magi, God gave them a priceless gift – His own son.

And once outcast people began to bear testimony of the King who was born. And people believed them. Transformation had began.

And that night when Bethlehem’s star hung bright, the shepherds might as well be the richest people on the face of the earth, for they had seen God and held him as He held them.

The economic slow-mo may have made some poor, some needy. This Christmas, poor, sinful and needy people will once again have an appointment with God. Only this time, blood has been shed, their sins washed away.

This will be a different Christmas indeed.