Focus on the shepherds

Gloria in Excelsis Deo

Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield, Sunday 22nd December 2019

Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield showing the balcony and west wall.

Sometimes being autistic and going to church are just not compatible. This week, as I was playing percussion in the later 10:45 service, and again at 4 in the afternoon at a Christingle service. I set off so that I would have time to prepare myself for that task. I arrived about 20 minutes into the earlier traditional service. Boy, did I need to be there.

On the walk down I was getting a bit edgy. The traffic was heavy for a Sunday morning, I suspect that as it was the Sunday before Christmas there would be relative visiting and Christmas shopping by those who work full time and have to buy some fresh food for Christmas. Just a combination of traffic noise, the brightness of the sky and me pondering my father’s dementia (his nursing home had their Christmas party last Thursday) all contributed to my edginess. Nowhere near meltdown, but I know and dread these feelings well. This early service was what I needed to get composure back. I sneaked into church at the back.

I knew that together with the physical side of drumming the little autistic element would leave me tired, and it did, but it was, but it was worth it, A great day.

In reverse order…

The Christingle service went well and was well attended,  with enough oranges for the children present to make one each and some left over for some of the adults. I was in a privileged position to be able to look out over the sea of candles. I also enjoyed thr chance to play bodrán.

Oranges represent the world. The cocktail sticks are about the good things in our lives. Candles represent Jesus, the light of the world and red band around the middle is for both the blood of Jesus shed and also the love of Christ which covers us. Spiritual warfare with oranges.

The elements of the Christingle laid out ready to assemble.

Back to the 10:45 service:

We had a guest preacher, Chris, an ordinand (trainee vicar) from the college at Mirfield. I found it a good sermon for someone that I presumed new to preaching. It was read from notes and contained elements of personal recollection, lecture and appeal. This is what I remember from about a third of the way in, for brevity.

We need to focus on the shepherds. Shepherds were not favoured people in Jewish society, even though Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David in the Old Testament were shepherds. They were workers with odd working times. Society did not favour them, but God favoured them. The angels’ message to the shepherds was this:

This is big. This is God coming into his creation in human form. The angels were a voice from heaven showing us what is going on.

The preacher said he had been to his son’s nativity play, “The whoopsie-daisy angel.” In it, they were told of a very special baby.

In contrast the shepherds were told that a saviour is born. The Messiah. The Lord. These titles show his message. This was the launch of God’s rescue plan. Jesus came to save. A special baby is only part of the truth Luke 2:10&11 says:

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Why is it good news to be a Christian?

The Angels sang Gloria in Excelsis Deo. Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests. Their song is of joy, praise and thanksgiving. Peace is about friendship and reconciliation.

Peace on earth now is not what Jesus promised. What he did promise is that nation will rise against nation until he returns. The promise of peace is for those on whom his favour rests. It is for God’s people.

There is a lot wrong with the world, said Chris. He pointed to things he has done which have caused harm. Who will pay? Jesus came to save his people from their sins. Jesus washes us of our sins and brings an inheritance.

The fear of shepherds was turned into joy, they believed and passed it on. This good news is joy. Let us respond in praise, let us pass it on.

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