One night, over 2,000 years ago, some shepherds near Bethlehem did what came natural for them. The evening began as any other ordinary night. They stood guard over their flocks in the fields. Even after God had called Israel’s greatest king ever out of the sheep folds, shepherds were still viewed as the bottom rung in society.
These particular shepherds near Bethlehem had nothing else to keep them occupied as they waited. They listened and they watched.
They had to be quiet and listen, keeping their ears trained for the sounds of wolves, ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice to protect their sheep.
They had to be motionless and watch, gazing at the pinpricks of sparkling white lights, made more brilliant in contrast to their inky backdrop.
All of a sudden, the darkness was replaced with a brilliant, blinding light. An angel of the Lord, in all his radiance, appeared to these simple, humble men and uttered some of the most significant words ever spoken.
“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.”
A choir appeared and a multitude of voices praised God. The shepherds were the ones chosen to hear the most glorious music this side of heaven. They were the first to hear the good news.
They believed the words of the angel. Immediately, without hesitation, they left their sheep and hurried to see Immanuel. God with us. God as a baby, dependent on others for its care, who would be called the Great Shepherd someday. A baby who would guard and lead and care for its sometimes unruly, usually ungrateful flock. The shepherds were the first to see this baby.
“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 were the first to tell others what they’d seen and experienced.
It was the most natural response in the world.
I wonder, what will you and I hear and see if we are quiet and still? How will we respond to that?
We don’t tend to have listening and watching automatically built into our schedules, but when something we deem important comes along, somehow we make time for it. I pray for you a blessed Christmas season, with time carved out to be still, and know that He is God.