They are shepherds, living out in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night, and walking around looking for the fields of green grass and the pools of fresh water for their flocks by day. The Roman Emperor orders a census for collecting taxes from them. The people living in the town are not much friendly to them. They look the shepherds as a stranger and treat them as the invisible. Someone calls them a thief or the scum of the field. Even the temple or the synagogue are not comfortable to them. In the town, there is no room, no place for them to take a rest or lie down. They need something to give them new strength. They need someone who leads them in right paths (Psalm 23). For them, there is no difference between yesterday and today, and tomorrow. Every day is the same. They are hungry, and they are thirsty (Matt. 5:6). They are so tired from carrying heavy burdens, and they need rest (Matt.11:28). They got lost in the woods, and in the dark valley. They need someone, something. No hope. No help. However, they still have to take care of their flocks, because they are shepherds, and their flocks need them. So, this night, they are shepherding their flocks just like yesterday. And tomorrow, probably, they will be here or there to shepherd their flocks just like today. They are shepherds. But, They need the Shepherd who shepherds them, in this filed, in this world.
Suddenly, someone else, not one of the fellow shepherds, not one of those whom they know, appears to them. And says, “It is good news for you. It will be great joy to you. Rejoice. The Shepherd is born to you. Today, the Great Shepherd has come to you. Go to see him.” “But, we are shepherd. Why, should we go to see the Shepherd, leaving our flocks in the field. We have to take care of our flocks, our sheep. We are their shepherds. They need us, we need them. We don’t need any help from other shepherd. We are fine. We are good.” He says, “No, you are not fine. You are not good.” “The one who has come today, is not a shepherd. He is the Good Shepherd who has come for you. He will give you rest. He is the Messiah, the Lord, whom you have been waiting for.” “He saw you in the fields. And his heart was filled with pity for you, because you are like sheep without a shepherd (Matt. 6:34). You need shepherd. You are not shepherd. You are sheep which needs shepherd.” Yes, like these shepherds, we need shepherd because we are sheep. We are God’s sheep. We need God. We need our Shepherd. Good Shepherd. So, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son to us (Gal. 4:4). Today, to these shepherds and to us, our Savior, Christ, the Lord is born. “Go. You will see your shepherd who will lead you to eternal life and heavenly peace. He will give you rest. The shepherd is born to you.” “You will find a baby, wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” A Baby. In a Manger. Yes, the Christ is born today as a real baby, wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger. The Baby is not just a Metaphor or a sign. Real Baby. Real Christ. True Lord. True Shepherd. But, as a baby. The Great Shepherd has come as a baby. Yes, it’s a baby lying in a manger, whom they see. It is a baby who needs mom and dad. It’s a baby, the most vulnerable being. For them, the shepherds, the baby in a manger of a stable, looks like a lamb. “Here is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29), John the Baptist cries out. Yes, he is a lamb. He has come as a lamb.
The baby Christ is born to us. What does it mean? Honestly, the baby in a manger does not look like the Savior, who will bring peace on earth and save them. Why has the Lord come as a baby, wrapped in clothes, lying in a manger, in a stable, in a small town? St. Ambrose of Milan of the fourth century says, “He became an infant and a child, so that you might be a perfect person. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes so that you might be absolved from the bonds of death. He was in a manger, so that you might be at the altar. He was on earth, so that you might be in heaven. He had no room at the inn, so that you might have mansions in heaven.” Yes, Christ Jesus became a child, so that we might be his mom and dad to care of him. He came to us as a child who needs to be wrapped in our clothes of love and hope. He was in a manger to become the bread and wine for us and for all creatures, and also to make us realize that we are called to be the bread and wine to one another. He came into the world, so that we become the people of heaven. He had no room at the inn, so that we might become his dwelling place. And he becomes our home on earth and in heaven. He came to us as a child, so that we might grow with him, in him, and through him. We are not born as a Christian, but made a Christian. Christ is born, and we are made Christ-like. I remembered the night, on December 28th, 2008, when my son, Ian, was born to us. I was so happy. It was a great joy for me. It was a great moment in my whole life, but on the other hand, I was afraid. I thought I was not ready to be a dad, a good dad. Yes, it was a great gift from God. Absolutely. But, I was afraid. “Can I be a perfect dad?” I was thrilled. But I was afraid. Now, my son becomes nine on coming Thursday. He has grown as much as nine years. And I have grown as much as nine years with him. Still I am afraid. I am not a perfect dad. I know. And my son knows. But, I will grow with my son. My son will grow with his dad. We will grow.
The baby Christ has come to us that we may be made a Christian. We now have been set on the track of growing into the humanity of wholeness, the mature Christian. With him, we will walk a journey from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, from the manger to the cross, to the tomb, and to heaven. In him, we will find heavenly peace and comfort, and find the eternal life. On the way, we will meet our fellows, and share the bread and the wine of the gift of God, and encourage one another to keep walking, and celebrate one another to be participate in the journey. And we sing and praise God together. The baby Christ has come to us that we may grow with him into a mature Christian. The baby Christ has come to build a new family that we may be one in him. The baby Christ is surrounded by the animals which are our fellow creature, and shepherds who are the marginalized, and the three wise men or three kings who are the Gentiles, and Mary, a woman who is often ill-treated in society, and Joseph who looks not rich. All the animals and the people become one family because of the baby. This is what Christmas is about, this is what Christmas nativity shows us. t is a new family, it is God’s family. It is the kingdom family. This is what the world was meant to be in the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, and this is why God sent his Son to us, and this is what the kingdom of heaven looks like. It is what the apostle Paul says in his letter to Galatians (3:26-29). Before the baby, there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, between slaves and free people, between men and women. Different skin colors, different languages, different cultures, different traditions, different races, different thoughts, different ideologies, different social status. Before the baby, these all do not have any meaning at all. We all become one before the baby Christ, the Lord. We all become one in union with the baby Christ, the Lord We all are given rest in him, the baby Christ, the Lord. This is what Christmas is about. This is why we celebrate Christmas together this morning. This is why the Good Shepherd has come to us, and why the shepherds leave their flocks in the field, and take a journey to see their Shepherd.
A dad is not born, but made. A Christian is not born, but made.
Today, the baby Christ is born to us. Let us rejoice. And let us grow with him in God. Amen.