Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Christmas Shepherds

Well, the Christmas season has finally arrived at our house. We're a little slower than some of the other bloggy ladies I read, but we got here. Now that my little Bah-humbug spat is over, that is. I deleted that post, for the record. It was just too cranky. Tic Tac has been pestering, I mean, asking about when we could decorate, and we finally got the tree this week and put up the ornaments last night. I must say, it is beautiful, and the weather has cooled down, too, so I'm starting to feel like it might be Christmas. Oh, and almost all of the shopping is done. Great rejoicing in the land! I've been playing my Manheim Steamroller in the car, too. Monk can't stand it - he keeps saying, "I wish today was Christmas." And I keep answering, "No, you don't, because we haven't gotten the big gift yet!" So, there we are.

I've been thinking about the wonder of Christmas the past few days. For my kids, the wonder is still in the glitter and presents - I remember what it was like to be a kid with all the anticipation. But as I've grown up, I'm really coming to be so full of wonder about the fact that Christ came to earth. It's amazing that no matter how many times I read the Christmas story, something new will strike me every time. This week I'm thinking about the shepherds. Common, ordinary, ceremonially unclean. And the angel came to them - not to the priests and the religious leaders or the political leaders but to shepherds minding their flock of sheep one night, just like they always did, and they got to experience the glory of the Lord shining all around them. And they were afraid. What an awesome sight it must have been. They got to be the first to hear of the Savior's birth. Has it ever occurred to you how incredible it is that God so beautifully orchestrates even the details? How incredible that the shepherds who were guarding a flock of sheep, some of which were probably destined to be Passover lambs, were the first to be invited to see THE Passover Lamb - the One about whom John the Baptist would say just 30 years later, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" Some of the lambs the shepherds guarded that night were born to die in the Passover sacrifice. And the One they hurried to see that night was also born to die - 33 years later on a Roman cross. That is why He came, and He never veered from that mission. He glorified His Father by living ever only for God's glory, a sinless life, and then dying on that cross to be resurrected on the third day, delivering all who believe on Him from our sins. And the first ones to be told of His coming were common, ordinary, ceremonially unclean shepherds, marveling and glorifying God for the One who is the Good Shepherd and the King of Kings for all time and the final, complete sacrifice for sin. How amazing.

Luke 2:8-20 "Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.'
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!'
So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, 'Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.' And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them."

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