Read: Luke 2:8-20

The shepherds returned . . . (v. 20)

I tell my preaching students that the first step to write a sermon is to read the Bible passage very slowly and aloud. The “slowly” part is key. Because often when we read extra slowly, something jumps out at us that we’ve never noticed before. Like the phrase “the shepherds returned.” Usually, we rush over top of those three words on our way to the “real” punch of the sentence about their “glorifying God.”

But linger over the idea that they “returned.” Returned to what? Well, to their sheep, to their smelly moth-eaten tents, to their typical routines. Make no mistake: it had been quite a night. They’d seen angels. They’d found the mysterious baby. They had a sense something amazing had happened. Maybe they had just seen a Savior.

Yes, quite a night, but when it was over, it was back to real life. It’s no different for any of us. In a couple of days we will celebrate Christmas. There will be parties, family gatherings, special church services. But then it’s over and it’s back to reality, back to the office, to the classroom, to the grocery store. We too will “return” from our stop at the Christ’s cradle. But if we know we’ve seen the Savior who was born unto all people, then though we return to all things typical and ordinary, we do so in a world that has been changed, saved, transformed. We also return, but we do so with great joy! —Scott Hoezee

Prayer: When we return to the familiar, may we do so changed by your Spirit, O God! Amen.