Thursday, December 22, 2011
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
One angel appears and these unsuspecting shepherds were terrified as they were bathed in God's glory. I wonder what gave them the terror ... the angel, the splendor and magnificence of God's glory, the timing, their seclusion and the relative darkness - apart from the evening sky, the suddenness of this encounter.
They had probably noticed "the star" and discussed its significance in their night watches. I wonder if they had spun any "what if" scenarios ... what if that's a sign from God ... what would the Lord be saying through His star ... what if it is close for a reason .... I also wonder if they talked themselves out of that wonder ... what if it doesn't mean anything ... what do I know of stars, I know sheep ... what difference does it make to a lowly shepherd, who society tends to ignore ... whatever it means, we'll be the last to know about it.
I am struck by this particular display of our Father to these men, tending sheep. They were not part of the frenzy in town. They were not terribly welcomed in town. They were separate. The holy words do not convey what they were thinking or looking for that night; just a sudden and divine experience with a long awaiting birth announcement. Good news. Good news indeed. But it came to the most disconnected group. And they were directed to the most unusual of places for a birth - except it was a location which was all too familiar to these sheep-tenders, they knew stables and mangers. It wouldn't be unusual for them to attend to matters in that environment.
A question comes about this heavenly proclamation ... Why? Why not the religiosity? Why not to the common town folk? Why not the wealthy and well-connected? Why not the upper echelons of power and influence? Why such disconnected and discounted people?
But then I resonate with that description. It's me. And praise His wonderful and ever-loving Name, God's heart is for those disconnected and discounted sorts. Those that, despite the fact they are committed to what they are doing, choose to respond to Him, to His words and personal invitation. Those that catch the meaning of announcement, and only by His grace.
Then I am reminded of the history of these noble folks, the heritage my Messiah was born into, the line from which He was promised to descend. King David. After the dismal time of the judges, where people did as they saw fit, the Lord God of the Universe raised up David to rule His people and establish David's name in the books of history. David's debut was as a shepherd, insignificant and even overlooked by his own biological father. But the Heavenly Father never overlooks nor deems insignificant that which He has created. And this young shepherd became the king of that same God of the Universe's people.
That little bundle of new flesh and blood, now using lungs and breath just as the creation He had previously spoken into being (who can complain about the design when He Himself had planned to implement it), had appeared and was wrapped in cloths. Not Heaven's glory; but a manger held Him. That we might behold His glory and receive grace upon grace ... from the work, sacrifice and life of the Great Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ.
I pray that many would come to You in these days, Lord Jesus, just as the shepherd did. May they come running at the revelation of You. May I be a faithful revealer of my Messiah this week.
Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.