Shepherds and the Good Shepherd

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

Luke 2: 8-12

The Advent Project devotional has really been a blessing this Advent season. Today’s is about the Shepherds in Luke 2. Wonderfully written by Hannah Williamson, I thought I’d pass it on to you:

“The shepherds did not expect to encounter the glory of God amid the bleating of lambs and crackling of tired fires. The night began unremarkably. They talked and laughed to ward off sleep, to stay alert for sounds of danger. The cadence and calming tones of their familiar voices soothed their restless flocks. Now and then, their eyes wandered to the east, searching for signs of the dawn that was still far off.

They did not know a greater dawn was so close at hand.

They did not think to look for God, for they were far from the temple. Their duties were mundane. Ceremonious washings and atoning sacrifices were far from their minds. The promised Messiah seemed less tangible than the people, plans, and demands of the coming day. They could not fathom being sought by the uncreated God amid their ordinary lives.

To these unassuming shepherds, the glory of the Lord appeared. Terror followed. Wide-eyed, trembling witnesses beheld nature join the angelic chorus as the night reverberated in triumphal praise. All questions, uncertainties, sufferings, divisions, and insecurities that had clamored for attention, for the moment, faded. Exposed to but a fraction of the Light shining forth from these heavenly heralds, they were conscious only of their smallness and frailty. But great fear transfigured into greater joy.

For the long-awaited One had arrived. Achings and groanings centuries old were answered at last—their consolation a babe who himself sought the consolation of his mother’s touch. The fullness of God embodied in the helpless form of an infant. The worship of the earth and heavens received by the newborn who now whimpered at the foreignness of the world outside the womb, still adjusting to the manger he’d accepted in place of his royal throne. The Mighty One made completely, utterly vulnerable.

When the shepherds met their Good Shepherd, how could they not fall down in worship? When chosen by the King to bear witness to his humble entrance, how could they not spread the joyous news? When dignified by the Creator who reigns on high, how could they not meet with loving, confident gaze the eyes of those whose faces were twisted in sneering rejection, who had not yet borne witness to the inbreaking Kingdom? 

Their good tidings are still for all men. The important and the cast aside. The earnest seekers and the flagrant sinners. The educated and the unlearned. The hopeful and those in despair. And most of all for those outside the city gate—for the oppressed, the poor, the sojourner, the orphaned, and all who are unhindered by their own sense of self-importance. For those in darkness have seen a great light. A Savior has come, who is Christ, the Lord.”

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