“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.” Luke 2:8
Dear Friends and Saintly Seed Sowers:
The final countdown for Christmas is here! Depending on when you read this — you will have less than 7 days to make the final preparations for your home and your heart for Christmas. Why not take a few moments in the next few days to read Luke 2:8-20? Reflect on the announcement of Jesus’ birth. How has this announcement changed your life? Just think, if the Savior had not been born, December 25 would be a regular Tuesday this year. No holiday parties to attend, no kids’ Christmas plays or concerts, either. No extreme shopping–online or in the stores. Perhaps the big buzz would be New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. I seriously want you to sit down and think about this? What if Jesus had never come to earth? What if Jesus had never been born?
Just about every spare minute I have this month, I am studying; looking over my Scripture passages for this week’s final Advent message on love. I keep getting stopped by the fact that there were shepherds … who lived out in the fields…doing what shepherds do: keeping watch over their flocks. It made me think, “How do I apply that to me today?” These shepherds were just doing what shepherds do. Kind of like you and me. We go to work. We come home. We all have some sort of routine and rhythm to our days just like these shepherds. You have to bet that this day, this night was very ordinary in their very ordinary lives and, then, in one split second, everything changed completely and forever! In the darkness of the night, an angel of the Lord appeared—all shiny and glowing! It made me think of this question, “Am I watching out for God to break into my daily routine? Would I even notice if He moved into my neighborhood?”
Let’s get busy dissecting the Greek. The Greek word for “keeping” is a present-active verb–meaning the action of “watching” is a constant, ongoing, day-in and day-out, hour in and hour out, minute by minute, second by second action. The shepherds were constantly watching their flocks–by day and by night. It never stopped. Those shepherds were always watching over their flocks. This then made me think of another question and as the Holy Spirit prompted me, I now prompt you:
What is it that you are keeping watch over–by day and by night? Be honest. What is it that consumes your life? What eats up your time, your money, your thoughts?
Back to the shepherds who are out in the thick darkness of night watching sheep. To them it was an ordinary night with ordinary sheep and ordinary shepherds. And SUDDENLY, God broke into their ordinary story. You know this God of ours, the God Almighty who loves to hook the word “extra” onto the front of ordinary—extraordinary!? That’s where the shepherds were. A night starting out just like every other night: watch the flock settle down for their night’s sleep; tomorrow will come soon enough. Try now to imagine being out there as a shepherd. Maybe you’re cooking stew over the make-shift fire? Maybe you are unrolling your sleeping bag and setting up under a tree? Maybe you and a few other shepherds are swapping funny, sheepish stories? It’s all quiet. It’s time for settling down. And then the greatest news in the history of the world is announced! An angel of the Lord appears to the shepherds — in the fields, in the outskirts of town, and the shepherds are terrified. I need to translate this part of the passage because it’s important: they were terrified, terrified greatly. Have you ever been greatly terrified? The night has a light of its own. It’s not twinkle, twinkle little star. It’s an angel. Lighting up the night sky.
Has God ever interrupted your nice, quiet, ordinary life? Surely the shepherds’ ordinary night has now turned into an extraordinary night!
“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.”
Immediately, the shepherds had to think, “Isaiah! The Prophet Isaiah foretold us of this very thing, 750 years ago. Holy stinking smokes!” and then the entire night sky is not filled with just one angel but it is filled with a whole heavenly host of angels…all praising God and singing, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth…peace!” Come on, think about being there. The entire skies are filled with angels and they are all singing. What would you do or say? What we do know is that when the angels were gone, those ordinary shepherds high-tailed it to find that baby; the baby who would be wrapped in cloths…and lying in a manger—an animal’s feeding trough. These were lowly shepherds but they knew exactly where to find a manger. And when they found the manger, there they found the baby wrapped in swaddling cloths!
Well, it’s here. The last week before Christmas! We sit on the edge of our own ordinary Christmas Eve. On Christmas Eve, people everywhere throughout the world will gather together. Many will gather in homes, surrounded by family. Others will gather in churches. All around the globe, ordinary people just like you and me, will gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ the Lord. It’s really no ordinary night and we are no longer ordinary people.
God came down to earth in the form of a baby. God wants to live in our hearts and our homes. Immanuel—God with us! This was the cry of those ordinary shepherds on that ordinary night in their ordinary lives. God broke into their darkness of their night. Angels! Terrified! More angels! Singing! Glory and Praise to God! Go find the Baby in a manger! Those shepherds went and they found the baby. They were no longer ordinary. They were now glorifying-and-praising-God-extraordinary! This is my prayer for you as you read this SEED OF FAITH. May the Holy Spirit break into your ordinary, routine life and may you sense the presence of heavenly angels this last week of Advent. When you gather with your family, or with your church, may you, too, sing just like those angels and those shepherds.
Christmas is the PROMISE that GOD IS WITH US. May there be a song in your heart as you run to find the baby lying in the manger. You’re not ordinary if you know the King of Kings!
See You Sunday!
Mulungu aku kondani, naine nikukondani—God loves you and so do I”
Mulungu aku daliseni — God bless you
God loves you with an unfailing love and so do I,