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Good news of great joy for shepherds, cab drivers

Taiwan cabbie offers up sermon notes

by the Rev. John McCall, mission co-worker in Taiwan

PC(USA) mission co-worker the Rev. John McCall speaks with students in Taiwan. (Contributed photo)

Luke 2:8-18

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before 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; for see — I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.

I was in a cab headed to the high-speed rail station, on my way to preach at a Taiwanese wedding. While the groom is a Christian, he had told me that his parents were not. The vocabulary we use in Taiwan, when preaching to Christians, can often be language that non-Christians don’t understand. As soon I got into the cab, I saw that the cab driver, Mr. Jwang, had a small statue of Buddha on his dashboard. So, I thought to myself, it might be good if Mr. Jwang could listen to my sermon and tell me which parts he did not understand. That way I would be sure that the groom’s family was able to understand.

So, I explained to Mr. Jwang and asked if he would he be willing to listen to my sermon and tell me if there were parts he did not understand. Over the years the Taiwanese people have helped me in many ways, and most of the time they are very obliging. Mr. Jwang replied, “Sure.” Driving all day could get boring, I thought, so perhaps hearing an American use Mandarin to preach a sermon might actually be interesting.

In the half-hour cab ride, I shared my wedding sermon with Mr. Jwang, and he patiently listened. He stopped me when I said something that he didn’t understand. When we got to the train station, I thanked him for his willingness to help. And he replied in polite Taiwanese fashion, “Your sermon really moved me!”

As we said goodbye, I wondered if my wedding sermon had indeed touched Mr. Jwang’s heart or if he was just being polite. Then my attention turned to other cab drivers waiting for fares, playing mahjong, a kind of Taiwanese checkers, while they wait. It occurred to me that on that first Christmas, the angels came to unlikely folks tending their sheep. Shepherds were people without status, with a lot of time on their hands. If Christ was born in Taiwan this year, the angels might just appear in front of the high-speed rail station to these waiting cab drivers. “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom God favors.”

Originally the groom’s father didn’t want to attend his son’s wedding in a Christian church. But because he loves his son, he finally was willing to attend. I noticed that when his son said words of thanks and blessing to his parents as part of the wedding service, that his father got very emotional.

This Christmas I give thanks for the privilege of living in this land of Taiwan. Each day I am blessed by folks like Mr. Jwang and the groom’s father. And I know that the good news that came on that Christmas morning, in the form of Jesus, is also meant for the people like them. Good news of great joy to all people. May that good news fill your days and your lives as Jesus moves into our neighborhoods.

This article is from the December World Mission e-newsletter, published the third Thursday of each month. Subscriptions are free. Sign up at

Support the ministry of John McCall in Taiwan. Make an online gift or make check payable to Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and designate fund E200487 in the memo line. Mail checks to Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), P.O. Box 643700, Pittsburgh, PA 15264.

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

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