I used to pity the shepherds, but this year I’m celebrating Christmas with them.
Picture this: on a warm clear night, lowly shepherds were out in an Israeli field with their flock of sheep. These dirty shepherds, who lived outside with their animals, were not the type that would be invited to your next dinner party.
The Gospel of Luke records that without any warning, the heavens blazed with the glory of heaven. The shepherds were petrified. They saw and heard angels loudly proclaim the news that the promised Messiah had just been born in a stable. The God of love had intersected time and space. The shepherds immediately ran to Bethlehem to get in on the news of the ages.
It was no accident that the good news was told first to the shepherds. Everyone else would have minded going to a smelly hay-filled barn to see the Baby King. But not the shepherds; it was familiar turf.
As soon as the shepherds came face to face with Jesus in the stable, they could not keep the glory of the Lord to themselves. People might have thought the riffraff shepherds were drunk. But the shepherds were sure of what they had seen and they told others. “And all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” Luke 2:18
Sometimes I feel a little bit like the shepherds. My family and friends are enjoying Christmas celebrations and as a mom, I am working to make the festive events nice for everyone else. I’m like a shepherd tending the sheep (the food source). Let’s be honest, for us moms, Christmas can be summed up in one word–work.
So how do I have my own Christmas celebration? As moms, we need to find a little slice of Christmas early in December. It could be attending a production of the Messiah, passing out plates of chicken and gravy at a homeless shelter, visiting a shut-in neighbor, listening to a friend play Christmas carols on the piano, or attending a special worship service.
I have found my personal celebration of Christmas the last six years at a live outdoor Christmas nativity at a church in my neighborhood. I go and see the donkey, some little lambs, the curious goat, the unsanded wooden manger, and the leaning A-frame shelter with starry sky for a ceiling. The animals almost seem to understand. And there’s me sobbing, worshipping the humble One who arrived on this earth as a baby. Praying I can be more like Him. Loving Him so dearly and knowing that He loves me even more. Thanking Him for being willing to humble Himself and come to earth.
This Christmas, you can find me at Olive and Vail Streets, smitten and awed by the Shepherd-like Child King. After I’ve been touched by the humble Shepherd, I’ll be able to work to give my family their Christmas celebration.
Five Reasons I’m Celebrating Christmas with the Shepherds
1. The shepherds were sacrificial. They were willing to lay down their lives for their flock if necessary. Even when the shepherds got the heavenly wake-up call, probably one shepherd had to stay behind with the sheep.
2. The shepherds were humble. They didn’t have intellectual pride or they would not have believed the King could come as a lowly baby. They didn’t have material or social pride because they hung out with sheep. They didn’t have religious pride because as shepherds they could not enter the Temple.
3. The shepherds were courageous. They didn’t let fear of the unusual keep them from answering the call. (Since when is running toward God a bad thing?)
4. The shepherds were changed. If an adjective could be put in front of the shepherds’ conversion, it would be “wonderously” saved. They walked, smelled, sang, and loved differently. God had not just changed them, He had rearranged them.
5. The shepherds were obedient–immediately. They didn’t make the new Baby wait. They had no trouble following, once they heard God’s heavenly call.
TO PONDER IN YOUR HEART: I have been changed by the nativity, so I am going out to tell everyone I know, including the shepherds in my life. In fact, maybe that is who I will tell first. Who will you tell?