I wonder when was the last time you witnessed or experienced something which you knew had changed your life forever?
It could be watching your child walking into their new classroom on their first day of school, or your first day at a new job, or even that first glimpse at the love of your life, if you believe in love at first sight! Or perhaps for many, it's the birth of a child. From that moment, literally, nothing will be the same again, as this little human has captured your heart and you realise your whole world has been turned upside down and weirdly you’re really excited about it!
One night, over 2000 years ago, a group of shepherds had just settled in for the night. Camping out under the stars, they had picked a good area to sleep so they could watch over their sheep. Perhaps they had just set a fire and had a last-minute supper before they would pick who would take the first watch and the rest could catch some shut eye.
What was about to happen to these unlikely heralds was to change their lives forever.
The night was as still as any other but for the occasional bleat from a restless sheep and the crackle of their small fire; nothing to mark it out as significant. Then…
“Help! No! Please don’t hurt us!”
Opening their eyes to shouts and cries of fear from their lookout, the shepherds were enveloped in a great light, like nothing they had encountered before. The impulse to chase the flock which had now scattered in fear was diverted by a shining figure who proclaimed:
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12)
Then the sky opened up to a host, uncountable in number, of singing and praising angels declaring:
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!” (Luke 2:14)
What the Shepherds had experienced that night was not only something that would change their lives forever, but, as the angel had declared to them, it was good news of great joy for all people.
That night was to change everything, for all people would see God become man, God step down from glory into humanity, God grow up amongst those He had created, God show humanity. There was no length He wouldn’t go to to make a way for us to know Him intimately.
God launched a rescue mission that night where, 33 years later, it would be completed on a wooden cross as all our debt would be placed on Him and paid in full. It started on a night much like any other and would end with a cry from our Saviour “It is finished!”
The debt was paid, and forgiveness open to whoever believes and follows. True freedom was paid for, life offered in all its fullness, resulting in three days later a Risen Saviour who walks with us each day.
It was, without a doubt, a night that changed everything.
If you would like to find out more about what it is to know and follow Jesus, and find out why that night changed everything for you, please come along to any of the Christmas events we will be having at Grace Centre over the festive period. We would love to meet you.