Today, week two in our series of Advent celebrations, we continue our worship with a focus on the shepherds in Luke 2:8-20.
The Shepherds: Glory to God in the Ordinary
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 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 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 on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Growing up, I raised sheep, fed sheep, vaccinated sheep, and in competition, exhibited sheep—a large flock of sheep. Daily, I took care of their never-ending needs. Yet for these shepherds, herding sheep outside Bethlehem differed drastically from my modern day animal husbandry experience.
Their demanding vigil required living outdoors among their animals on barren hillsides. Did anything ever disrupt their ordinary lives or their ordinary duties? Seemingly, no. Yet, these ordinary shepherds, with an ordinary occupation, on an ordinary evening, became the first to hear an extraordinary announcement:The Birth Announcement of The Son of God.
After 400 years of silence, an angel of the Lord broke the sound barrier. Without forewarning or introduction, a heavenly herald exploded on the serene pastoral scene.
Of course, the ordinary shepherds were terrified! But, the angel reassured them this was good news of great joy. There has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Suddenly, backup voices appeared on the stage. An entire host joined the angel of the Lord to praise God and pronounce peace. When the heavenly performance ended, the curtain closed and the ordinary shepherds found themselves alone with their sheep. But they did not sit still.
They discussed, they decided, and they departed. With a sense of urgency that fairly pulsates from the Text, they went and they saw. Once the ordinary shepherds discovered for themselves that the announcement was true—The Baby was indeed in the manger—they spread the word of this extraordinary event. Ordinary individuals were entrusted with an extraordinary message…and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
Good news, great joy: a Savior has been born to you. Down through the ages, the to you part of this story still grips me—ordinary you, ordinary me. Extraordinary, isn’t it?
Living with Eternal Intentionality™
Imagine the silence of 4oo years being broken with the angel’s announcement! Put yourself in the place of a shepherd. What might your response have been that night outside of Bethlehem?
Consider the powerful potential of an interruption. Our tendency is to view an interruption negatively. When is the last time God interrupted your ordinary daily routine with His change of plans for you? How did you respond?
The angels’ chorus of praise says in v.14, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests. Why is peace so precious to those who know God?
When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this Child ( v.18). What resulted from the shepherds seeing the Newborn Christ? How does this apply to us today?