Today is October 12, 2014 and we are in the middle of the Biblical Feast of Tabernacles we are to observe according to Leviticus 23. If we truly wanted to be accurate in our religious holidays we would be celebrating Jesus’ birth during this Feast every year because that is when He was actually born (And that can be proven using the scriptural account of when Zacharias and Elizabeth gave birth to John, but that’s another subject). I do celebrate The Light of the World coming during December because that is when Mary was conceived of the Holy Spirit, and we believe that life begins at conception.
With that being said, look at Luke 2 which is the account of Jesus’ birth beginning with the angelic proclamation to a group of shepherds. Verse 20 says, “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen.”
What had the shepherds heard and seen? The immediate response from most of us is that the shepherds heard and saw an angel telling them about the birth of the long-awaited Jewish Messiah, followed by a multitude of the heavenly host praising God!
But read the whole passage and you will see something a little different which has a word for us about true worship: Luke 2:16-20: “So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” (That little tag phrase, "which were just as they had been told" tells us that they were rejoicing about what they heard and saw after the angelic visitation.)
The Shepherds were glorifying and praising God because they had heard that the Messiah had come and they had actually seen HIM!
Sure, the angelic choir had to be awesome, and no doubt the shepherds included that part in the telling of their story. But they were not going around saying, “Oh, we heard and saw angels in the night! It was the best singing and praising we have ever heard! And these angels were so awesome! They blew us away, and we just felt like we could have stayed there all night listening, singing along and worshipping God! Sure, some of the shepherds thought they were too loud and dancing around a little too much, but they were unbelievable! And, oh yeah, the Messiah was born.”By now you get my point. The shepherds were rejoicing because they had seen God in the flesh! He was the focus of what they had experienced – it was not all about the grand and glorious display in the sky (or on the stage). As a worship Pastor my goal for corporate worship is that people don’t depart saying, “Oh the choir was great!“ or “The band was awesome!” or “The orchestra was incredible!” After worship may we “return glorifying and praising God” because we just experienced being in the very presence of the Messiah, the King of all Kings, our One and Only God!”