Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Shepherds

It is an ancient profession, perhaps one of the oldest.  It was the most undesired job, left for those who couldn't find a better way; the poor, the prisoners, the ones who had given up,  the ugly.

Someone had to tend the sheep.
Someone had to keep the flock together; to chase away the predators.
They had to keep the little lambs from wandering off and getting lost.
They had to keep moving sheep to different pastures, searching for fresh grass.



The job sometimes fell on single men who had no family responsibilities, who could stay with the sheep day and night, who had accepted the stink and the cold and the monotony.
They moved about with the sheep, living in tents or wagons. sleeping on the cold ground.
Being a shepherd was a unforgiving, lonely job with little to eat and none of the comforts of home.




Then the day came.
The day God had known about since the beginning, the day that would change us forever.
Heaven trembled with excitement.

I wonder if the shepherds sat around a fire as the night deepened, commiserating about their lot in life, knowing that tomorrow and the day after and forever they would be looking at sheep.  I wonder if even one of them wished, just for one time,  something exciting would happen.

The angel might have gone to the east, where wise men studied the skies and knew.
The angel might have gone to Herod's castle, or to priests,teachers, or leaders.
God chose the shepherds, the hopeless, for the greatest announcement of all eternity.

The birth announcement that the prophets had yearned for was made to lowly, coarse shepherds....
doing their jobs on just another night, not expecting this night to be any different, not expecting to be surrounded by a multitude of angels and the glory of God.

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 of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ 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, and on earth peace to men to whom his favor rests." Luke 2:8-14