Tuesday, December 17, 2013

the shepherds

"and there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night."  ~ luke 2:8

me? well, i'm sort of partial to the shepherds. i don't ever like to play favorites, but when it comes to the christmas story, there's something about the shepherds that really gets me.

maybe it's that they seem pretty simple. they were doing their thing: keeping watch over their flocks at night; camped out in a field; minding their own business; literally -- they were counting sheep.

i can hear the low hum of their conversation hillside. i can see them warming chilled hands by a fire. (clearly the setting isn't minnesota). i can imagine their sleepy attempts to stay awake.

their joking. their story-telling. their dream-sharing.

whispers in the dark muttered amongst plain, hard working, sheep-handling men.

the rustle of the animals.
the stillness of the night.
the calm of these caretakers.

and then BAM! 
out of the clear black sky, an angel of the Lord appears. and if that isn't enough, number one angel is joined quickly by a great company of the heavenly host -- a multitude.

now, i'm not exactly sure how many angels that might include, but something about a "great company" or "multitude" makes me think more showed up than a mere three or four. maybe three or four thousand? maybe? perhaps? i don't truly know ... but stop for a minute and just imagine the scene.

can you picture it? can't you just see those sleepy shepherds scrambling up off their hill? clinging to their staffs. pulling back their shepherd headdresses. eyes opening wide in wonder. hearts beating hard in surprise. faces startled into expressions of fear. this heavenly host blinding their sleepy, sheep-counting-eyes.

"do not be afraid. i bring you good news 
which will cause great joy for all the people. 
today in the town of david a Savior has been born to you."

 "... and the glory of the Lord shone all around them." ~ luke 2:11 & 14

these ordinary, simple, everyday, nothing-special shepherds on a hillside come face to face with the good news and with God's glory.

average guys meet glorious angels.

i think that's the part which really gets me when i read this passage.

it's at this moment with shepherds -- keeping watch in their fields ---where the mundane meets the majestic. where the monotony of sheep-watching mixes with something miraculous.

these shepherds in their rough woolen cloth, holding hand-carved staffs, sleepy and just trying to do their job, find themselves smack dab in the middle of God's glory.

it sounds a little like a close encounter with the third kind, doesn't it?

i'm sure they were shaking in their sandals.

i'm sure they were shaking heads in disbelief.

i'm sure the sheep were, suddenly, unimportant.

we know they dropped everything -- even the sheep.

the scripture is clear: "they hurried off..."

were they negligent shepherds? were they looking for a way out of their work? i don't think so. i think they had truly come into contact with the glory of the Lord and, here's the deal:  when you come into contact with God's glory, it quickly puts other things in perspective. you realize the menial tasks of life can be tabled for a time.

these simple shepherds were standing in angelic brilliance and they immediately knew this was big stuff. this was special. this was not your average, every day, shepherd boy's story.

"they hurried off..." excited. confused. bewildered. intrigued. purposeful.

they might have been a bit dazed by the heavenly display, but their is no record of them stopping to discuss the next steps. the only reaction recorded is,"let us now go and see ... and they hurried off." they got a glimpse of God's glory and they hurried off in search of Jesus. they wanted more. they couldn't wait. Jesus became urgent.

personally, i've never come across a great company of angels, but i know with certainty i've seen God's glory. i see it everyday in the little things He brings my way. everyday, i get some kind of glimpse. it's rarely a big dazzling kind of demonstration though. in fact, more often, it's the simple, quiet, unassuming gifts which announce His presence. sometimes, in order for me to take notice, the gifts require me to be more vigilant than a half-asleep shepherd. i have to "keep watch" for them.

but continuously, in little ways, He mixes the miraculous into my messy life making me want to react like those shepherds, who hurried off. i don't want to spend my time deciding or debating or discussing whether or not i should go find Jesus and tell others ... i just want to hurry off and do it without delay.

i want Jesus to be urgent in my life.

i want that kind of wild wonder.

i want to react to His glory -- whether it be startling and brilliant or simple and basic.

i want to be a shepherd-woman who reacts with haste. especially in december; to be woken up out of my sheep-counting, day-counting, present-buying, gift-preparing, party-planning, tree-trimming life ... and i want to hurry off to find Jesus.

how about you? do you want to be more like one of those shepherds on the hillside?

check out the lamb on the right -- missing an ear. bella likes to play
with our nativity set. clearly, i wasn't keeping watch.
you know, we can ask God to show us His glory -- we really can.

let december be a reminder that God appears to the simple, in the simple, and with the simple. His glory probably won't show up like a heavenly host of singing angels {but oh my goodness, how cool would THAT be!}, but it's there for our sheep-counting eyes to see. if we're a little bit sleepy on our hillside of life with heads nodding off and voices  whispering low, maybe, it's time we pull back our shepherd hats and keep watch for what He has for us.

He brought the glorious angels to the simple shepherds
He  brought the Savior of the world to the simple stable.
what gift, today, does He want to bring to simple us?

let's keep watch ... hurry off ... and go find Jesus.
"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  ...  
 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told." ~ luke 2:15-20

oh...and please leave me a comment! i think i FINALLY fixed my problem with the comments! if it  still doesn't work --- join me on my facebook page (link is in upper right corner) and tell me it isn't working. i'll be changing from blogger to wordpress somewhere in the new year.  but can't tackle that task at the moment. 


Marcia said...

Thank you for this post....Oh that we would all see Jesus as urgent! Have a very Blessed Christmas!!

Marcia said...

Thank you for this post....Oh that we would all see Jesus as urgent! Have a very Blessed Christmas!!