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A Word from the Least Important

The Christmas season is a good time to be reminded that God is often at work in the seemingly ordinary moments of life. When you think of the shepherds, do not think of the romantic picture that we have created for shepherds. In the Jewish community of the time the shepherds were not held in high respect. They were the ones who did what others avoided. They stayed out all night, slept on the cold ground, and smelled as a result of associating with all those sheep. A comparable person in our society might be the garbage collector or the low level security guard. They were not the people who you first thought of when you wanted to hold a party. Yet they were the ones to whom God communicated and they were the ones who brought the message to others who would listen.

Perhaps one of the reasons that politicians, Wall Street brokers, corporate magnates, and leaders of important churches occasionally get themselves in trouble is that they are too enamored with the importance of the decisions they make. Except for the Bible, who remembers Caesar Augustus or any of the decisions that he made? There is a correcting humility in becoming aware that God communicated the most important news of the world to some ordinary people who are often overlooked by the decision makers of society.

Think of the least important person in a congregation or in your own personal life. Or think of the most mundane task in the ministry of the church. Perhaps it is, like the work of the shepherds, a task that we count on being accomplished but not one that we pay much attention to. In what way might God be trying to speak to you through that which you often overlook? Could it be that the person or task that you often overlook might be the very context through which God can speak of heavenly peace on earth? If we are to hear the word of God in our lives, it is important that we learn how and where to listen.

- Stephen McCutchan, from "A Word From the Least Important," in The Immediate Word sermon resource for Christmas, 2008