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Dr. Jay P. Cook, Pastor

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Hark! the Herald Angels Sing – The Concert in the Field
Luke 2:8-20
Christianity is unique among the religions of the world for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons is that we are a singing faith.  

It is good that singing is a part of our faith; music / singing is an expression of our own hearts. We listen to cantatas – slipping CD’s in as we drive and on Christmas Eve we will flip around channels looking for Christmas concerts

Luke 2:8-20 (NIV)
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.


My dad use to listen to a preacher in Pittsburgh that was considered the preacher’s preacher, Dr. Bruce Thielemann who served as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh – he was a great story teller.  He tells the short story by Bret Harte’s The Luck of Roaring Camp which became a classic short story and it propelled Harte into a writing career. It was first published in 1868 in the Overland Monthly.    
Roaring Camp was supposed to be, according to the story, the meanest, toughest mining town in the West. There were murders and was a terrible place inhabited entirely by men, except for one woman who tried to serve them all. Her name was Cherokee Sal. She died while giving birth to a baby boy. Well, the men took the baby naming him Thomas Luck – thinking he would bring them luck and they put him in a box with some old rags under him. When they looked at him, they decided that didn't look right, so they sent one of the men 80 miles away to buy a rosewood cradle. He brought it back, and they put the rags and the baby in the rosewood cradle. And the rags didn't look right there. So they sent another of their number to Sacramento, and he came back with some beautiful silk and lace blankets. And they put the baby, wrapped around with those blankets, in the rosewood cradle. It looked fine until someone happened to notice that the floor was so filthy. So these hardened, tough men got down on their hands and knees, and with their rough hands they scrubbed that floor until it was clean. Of course, what that did was to make the walls and the ceiling and the dirty windows without curtains look absolutely terrible. So they washed down the walls and the ceiling, and they put curtains at the windows. And now things were beginning to look as they thought they should look. But of course, they had to give up a lot of their fighting, because the baby slept a lot, and babies can't sleep during a brawl. So the whole temperature of Roaring Camp seemed to go down. They used to take him out and set him by the entrance to the mine in his rosewood cradle so they could see him when they came up. Then somebody noticed what a dirty place that was, so they planted flowers, and they made a very nice garden there. It looked quite beautiful. And they would bring his shiny little stones and things that they would find in the mine. But when they would put their hands down next to his, their hands looked so dirty. Pretty soon the general store was all sold out of soap and shaving gear and perfume. . . the baby changed everything.
The Baby changed everything!   The Baby, Jesus has entered into our lives, and He slips into every crevice of our experiences, until we say "Hark! Listen, the herald angels sing! God is for us. And Christmas is forever."

My hope and prayer for you this Christmas Sunday is that you will let Christmas be forever for you. And that you will invite this little One who comes into the world to live in you. So let us sing the song of angels – Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Dr. Bruce Thielemann served as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He held degrees from Westminster College, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and a certificate from St. Andrews University in Scotland.


Please click here for attached slides to the sermon.