When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this Child. Luke 2:15-17
The folks in the Austrian state of Vorarlberg might be forgiven if they think the Grinch has left Whoville and moved into their neighborhood.
The problem of bringing Christmas to Vorarlberg began when a trailer loaded with Christmas trees drove through the town of Hohenems. Maybe I should say the truck tried to drive through the town of Hohenems. The trailer of the truck hit a wall, tipped over, and dumped out 14 tons of Christmas trees. The fire department sent 30 people to try and clean up the mess.
So, the folks in Vorarlberg can scratch buying Christmas trees off their lists of things to do.
But we're not done yet. That same week a driver of a tractor-trailer loaded 33 pallets of milk chocolate onto his truck. The truck was supposed to bring the Christmas sweets to ... you guessed it ... the province of Vorarlberg.
It takes less than a day to make that trip. When the truck hadn't shown up after four days, people began to make inquiries. They found the truck's license plates and the driver's papers had been forged. That means the folks at Vorarlberg can forget those fattening Christmas sweets.
It was about then that some of the folks in Vorarlberg began to think Christmas wasn't coming.
Of course, they were wrong.
When the shepherds showed up manger side the night Jesus was born, there were no decorated trees to brighten the lowly location of the Savior's birth, and as far as milk chocolate was concerned, well, milk chocolate wasn't going to be invented until the mid 1800s.
So, how did those folks celebrate that first Christmas without tinsel, trees or trappings?
The passage in Luke tells us the shepherds did two things: they went and saw, and then they went and shared. Since that night, people -- the church -- and tradition have added much to the celebration of Christmas.
But nobody has improved on what the shepherds did that night when they saw their Savior and then shared their Savior. It is the prayer of all of us at Lutheran Hour Ministries that no matter what else your Christmas might include, you will do the same. Go to church and hear about the Savior who has come to ransom our souls and win our salvation. Then, having seen, share the story with a world that still doesn't know the greatness of God's grace, who was born to save.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, in the days ahead may I see my Savior, Your Good News of great joy for a lost world. Then may I join with others to share that Savior with those who still are in darkness. This I ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries