Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Some Christmas Eve services go like this: You and your fellow members start preparing for the biggest service of the church year in November. The choir puts in extra hours of practice. Sunday School kids, or the congregation’s grade-schoolers, first mangle and finally memorize their passages. The sanctuary gets a Christmas makeover. Invites are designed and printed. Doors are knocked, pavement pounded. So much effort is invested in this one service, because it is an event that draws the unchurched, the drifting, and the doubting back through the church doors.
Christmas Eve finally arrives. The service goes flawlessly. The kids were cute, but not too cute. The tiny choir sounded angelic. But, oh the disappointment! Whole pews were empty. You wonder, was it really worth all the effort?
Well, let’s ask the angels, shall we? On that first Christmas Eve, God didn’t send a barbershop quartet to the shepherds. He sent thousands of messengers—an angel army! An army to announce peace. An army to erupt in praise. Their glorias shook the sky. But now check out the angels’ audience. They weren’t much to look at. There was just a handful of them. They weren’t strategic members of society who would bolster the angels’ outreach efforts. They were shepherds—smelly, scruffy, sidelined. But the size and social connections of their audience did not dismay the angels. That’s because their praise had nothing to do with their audience and everything to do with their God of grace. He had gifted earth with his Son, and the angels simply couldn’t contain their praise.
This Christmas, as you prepare to share the awesome story of Jesus’ birth with your community, don’t think about who or how many will be in your pews. Chances are many seats will stand empty in the continued pandemic. But God’s peace was won for that guy in the stained coat, sitting by himself with his head down. The end of fear was won for that small but faithful row of widows in the back. Heavenly joy was won for that neighborhood kid who wandered in because he saw the pretty lights. God’s grace was won for you.
So, prepare to share the wonderful message of a Savior with whoever comes to hear. Keep your heart fixed on God’s amazing gift—and you simply won’t be able to contain your praise.
Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare your praise. Amen.
Written by Sarah Habben
Provided by WELS Women’s Ministry