“Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’ When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went in haste….” Luke 2: 8-14
Tomorrow is Christmas…. It came upon us swiftly as it always does. Sneaks up whether we are ready for it or not, though we should have been preparing for it all Advent. One of my meditations this month to prepare for His birth was to reflect on the Christmas gospels. One of the most fruitful ones was placing myself outside of Bethlehem with the shepherds… imagine if you were a shepherd and got to see what they did…
It is a quiet night, a night like any other night as a shepherd. I am with my sheep, alone, praying. And then I see something peculiar. A brightness grows in the sky; I stand up overwhelmed. What is it? This brilliant light fills the sky and then I see an angel appear, no… a whole choir of angels. My eyes bulge and I fall to my knees, my mouth hanging open. The glory of the Lord shines around me. I can literally feel it. I am overcome; I weep. He speaks, sings, his voice booming, vibrating and melodic. I cannot tear my eyes from this sight.
Though I am afraid I am more in awe than anything. He tells me not to fear and tells me what has happened in Bethlehem. This choir of angels sings and resonates throughout the desert. I look around and see other shepherds have heard the good news too. I see them all. As the light from the angels dissipates I see the star for the first time; so huge and bright. It is shining over Bethlehem. I too feel myself glowing. I am on fire, joyful and curious. The glory that shone around me fills my heart, burns softly from my face. I want to see this new born baby.
We all begin the journey, a humble army of shepherds. We begin to sing all at once. Our song fills up the night sky as we trudge over dunes and make our way to Bethlehem. I laugh as I sing, so filled with joy and peace. The look on all our faces; we are on a mission from God. Chosen, why were we, poor humble shepherds, chosen to see this sight? It doesn’t matter. We follow the impossible star and we sing our hearts out.
And there it is just as the angels said; an amazing beautiful sight. Our song finishes as we come upon the scene. I am the first one to step into the stable. I want to see. There she is Mary, so young, so beautiful. She is glowing as she hovers over her new born son. Joseph is behind her, his hand on her shoulder, guarding them, a proud father. They are amazed to see us as we are to them.
I look down at my Lord and my God; a baby my King. I fall to my knees. He is illuminated by the star, or is it the other way around? I look up at Mary and she smiles and nods. A dog, some sheep and cattle surround me and worship Him too. I am overwhelmed with immense beauty; so in awe I cannot speak. I hold out my hands; give him all that I am, all that I have. I weep for joy. Here He is who we have been waiting for. He is so amazing, so innocent, so humble… to come to us this way. He came to me, … to us, the poor… I suddenly realize~ He made Himself poor so that we could be made rich. This babe. I cannot look away. Joseph puts his hand on my shoulder. I weep some more. The King of kings before me.
Then there is a commotion. Someone taps me on the shoulder and I turn and rise. Coming over the hill, a party of important men and their caravan approaches. We shepherds back up and let them through. I am continuously amazed. This small baby, this King, being visited by three kings in all their splendor. I look at their faces. Just like us they are overwhelmed and in awe of the baby. Tears streak down their faces as they come forth bearing expensive gifts. They fall to their knees and worship. Together they sing so beautifully to the King. We are all in awe of this wonderful sight. I look to Mary. She is smiling and weeping too; her hand clutched to her breast. They finish singing and all is quiet. No words can be expressed. We all just adore. We all adore the babe, God’s gift to us. No night can ever compare to this night.
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us….
Merry Christmas to all. Have a blessed Christmas season and a happy new year.