I’m currently couch bound as I recover from a minor knee arthroscopy procedure. It’s actually a welcome forced Sabbath. To be honest I’ve been a bit of a “Scrooge” this holiday season. I haven’t meant to be really, I think I’ve just been a little close-hearted in general this year and it’s just taken my heart a little longer to soften to Christmas.
I’ve been dealing with some grief, feeling a little lost and just a little spiritually kiddywampus. But I’ve been praying for a renewed sense of joy and peace, for new eyes and ears, and a soft heart with which to receive the Christmas child.
A few years ago around this time I shared a post a post about Mary at Christmas and as I’ve sat reading over the narrative in the Gospel of Luke this year, my attention has found its way and settled on the shepherds.
I don’t really know why I’ve never given them much thought before. I’m sure I’ve read the passage many times and yet never really intentionally imagined what it might have been like for them. But by God’s providence their story is just what my heart needed to hear.
And maybe if you’re having a harder time this year getting into the holiday spirit, it might encourage you as well.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
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. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 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 2:8-20
A few thoughts on having a Shepherd kind of Christmas:
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
- They were working. The shepherds were busy tending to their flocks. And aren’t we all busy tending to something; our family, job, friends, ministry, projects, etc. But the shepherds allowed themselves to be interrupted. Are we allowing space for the Lord to interrupt us?
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
- They were afraid but they listened anyway. There’s a lot of fear that’s been going around this year. Fear of the future, uncertainty around the state of the world. Can we set down our fears and listen to call of the Lord anyway?
. . .the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.
- They went together. The shepherds went in a group; they celebrated the birth of the Savior together. Christmas is a time for community; a time to celebrate with friends and family. If we’re away from family this season can we find fellowship within our church, or volunteer and serve in our local community? Let’s consider how we connect with others in the days leading up to Christmas.
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
- They went right away. They didn’t linger or wait until everything was just right. There are just a few days left before Christmas, how can we be intentional about turning our hearts to Jesus right now in the midst of the mess and the noise and the crowds?
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.
- They spread the word. They didn’t keep the news to themselves but shared it with all those around them. Who do we know that might need to hear the good news this Christmas? Can we greet all those around us with a Merry Christmas and share the message of Christ’s love with others?
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
- They glorified and praised God afterward, they brought what they had experienced home with them. Christmas is one day out of the year but we get to keep the gift of Christ in our hearts the whole year round.
My prayer for myself and for all of us is that like the Shepherds on that first Christmas we will take the time out of our busy schedules, set down the things that need tending to for just a bit and turn our hearts to Bethlehem these next few days so we can truly receiving that blessing and gift of Emmanuel- God with us.
Merry Christmas friends!