Christmas just isn’t Christmas until sheep form a conga line and begin dancing in celebration of the Savior’s birth, at least it’s not to He Qi, China’s most sought-after contemporary Christian artist. It’s a good illustration of what I talked about at last night’s Christmas Eve service:
“There is a time to mourn,” says the writer of Ecclesiastes, but there is also “a time to dance.” And if there is such a time don’t you think that this time, Christmas time, is it? I can imagine God putting the Incarnation together like a father bolting a bicycle together on Christmas Eve, anticipating the look of delight in his child’s eyes. He would want to keep it a secret, of course. He wouldn’t want to give away the surprise too soon. So he might choose a virgin from a little town in Galilee to bear this gift. Who would ever guess? And he might choose a stable in Bethlehem as the place to deliver this gift. Who would ever imagine? But then, when the gift arrived, he might be so excited about it that he would want the whole world to know, and the last thing he would want the world to do is recite a litany of celebration in a dull monotone. No! He would want the world to clap its hands, to burst into song, to do a few, quick dance steps. And so instead of announcing the news of Christ’s birth to the pastor of the First Baptist Church he sends his angels to some shepherds, abiding in the fields by night.
He did it for two reasons, I think: one, because he knew the shepherds would be awake, and two, because he knew the shepherds would know how to party, that the one thing they would be wondrously free from was inhibition. So when the angel tells them something big is happening in Bethlehem they don’t say, “Well, we probably ought to stay here and keep an eye on the sheep.” They say, “Let’s go!” “And they made haste,” Luke says, they ran, they raced, they tripped over rocks and roots and stumbled through the door of the stable breathless, laughing, and suddenly struck dumb with wonder. But they didn’t stay that way long. When they left that place they apparently banged on windows and doors, woke up their neighbors to tell them good news of great joy: “God is with us! God is here! Let’s have a party!”
Merry Christmas everyone. May your stocking be full of hope, peace, joy, and love, and may you too be inspired to do something a little crazy for Jesus’ sake.