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December 16 The Shepherds: I’m Not Dressed for the Occasion by Ashley Sherard

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[Then Jesus said,] “Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. Matt. 11:28-29 CEB

I am going to ask you to journey with me into, what could be, a painful time of life. I would like for us all to take a moment and remember Middle School and High School, particularly dances. Those have to be the most awkward situations many of us have ever been in, Amen? I remember spending hours getting ready to try to look my very best only to find out that another girl had the exact same dress or the humidity had ruined my hair and makeup before I ever even got to the event. No matter what, I always felt like I didn’t quite belong in the situation the way I looked. I think lots of people feel that way about church, they just don’t belong. It’s been too long since they’ve been, or they’ve never been or it’s too judgy and hypocritical for them.

On the night our Savior was born a host of Angels appeared to the shepherds in the fields. That’s interesting, wouldn’t you say? The first to know were the last one’s you would ever see in a “worship” setting. They were dirty and stinky because of their occupations. They spent their time with animals and manure and in the outdoors, they were considered unclean and therefore were not welcome at the temple, the only place you could worship in those times. Of course, they had the option to do the necessary rituals to become “clean enough” to worship in the temple, but it meant leaving the sheep…big no, no. Yet, in the reading of the Christmas story we learn the shepherds are the first to know! The Angels appeared to them and even told them where to find the Messiah! Even better yet, they went, no questions asked, no hesitation, no committee meetings, they just went. Stinky, dirty, unclean, they went just as they were to meet the Messiah. That invitation is for you as well, what better time to accept a relationship with Jesus Christ than now, with those lowly shepherds that weren’t welcome before but are now. We are welcome, we are invited, and He accepts us just the way we are.

—Creator God, thank you for the gift of the Christ child who came for each and every one of us. Thank you for the One who will open HIS Table to us, the unclean, the sinners, the saints, the body of Christ. Gift to me, Creator, the ability to accept myself in the way you accept me, the way Christ accepts me. Allow me to see the Child of God made in His image through fresh eyes and KNOW, without a doubt, that this child is born to make me whole. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Keith Fisher
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