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Let's Go and See: A Shepherd Speaks (2016-1224)

. 3 min read

Luke
2.1-20
In
character as a shepherd
Praise
the LORD! We saw angels! And the baby! It’s a miracle!
Earlier
tonight, we corralled the sheep in a ravine in the eastern pastures. We spread
out to watch, take turns sleeping. It’s hard work, you know, being a shepherd, not
for everyone. Reuben woke me for the second watch. And just then, someone else
was with us, standing right there, from me to you away. An angel, a messenger
of God, right there in front of us. And, glory! We could see the angel, but the
brightness of the glory was almost overwhelming. I cried out in alarm; I’ve
never seen anything like it. And everyone woke up.
“Do
not be afraid,” he said. And you should have seen what happened next! Not just
one angel of the LORD, but a whole battle host, a great army. And they were not
there for war, but for celebration! “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on
earth peace among those whom he favors!” Do not be afraid? If it is possible to
be terrified and overjoyed at the same time, that was me.
But
I am getting ahead of myself. The first angel had a message. “I am bringing you
good news of great joy for all the people: 
11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who
is the Messiah, the Lord.  12
This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth
and lying in a manger.”

Let’s
go and see! What else do you do? We secured the sheep as best we could and
hurried off, a thousand thoughts running through our heads. A baby? How many
babies were born tonight? It is a small town, but there’s a lot of people here
to register for taxation (what the Romans euphemistically call a census).
    In a manger? Really? Are the homes so full
that a woman has to give birth with the animals, and the feeding trough be
turned out for a crib? We put some folks up in our little house, and some of
them had to sleep with the animals, but a baby?
    Reuben said this is nuts. It is, of course,
but how do you ignore an angel messenger? What’s nuts is that this would be our
Savior, our Messiah. We need deliverance. Rome is awful. Leadership is absent.
    Asher, whenever he’d get time off, would
travel to hear some pretty strange preachers and prophets. He’d come back and
share their wild ideas, of God cleansing the earth, just like the story of
Noah’s flood. Or God shaking all the evil loose, like you shake out a table
cloth.
    But we never, in our wildest imaginations,
we never imagined that something so powerful as our salvation could begin with
a helpless baby, and a poor helpless baby at that. Rueben is right. This is
nuts!
Sure
enough, we found the baby, along with Mary and Joseph. We told them our story,
a bunch of disconnected babble, but they didn’t seem surprised. Joseph kept
nodding his head like he knew exactly what we were talking about. Mary was
quiet, just listened and nursed her baby. She let us touch him. I know,
everyone is drawn to babies, but a gang of dirty shepherds you’d never met
before?
    I don’t know what this means. There is no
way to explain that. I just know what I heard and what I saw. And I can’t stop
praising God. I don’t know why we were the only ones to see the angels, how a bunch
of guys at the bottom of the career ladder were chosen for this privilege. And
I have no idea what God has in store for this baby, and what that means for me
in the future.

    But I can’t shake the feeling that God is
with us. Like the LORD said to Moses when we were slaves in Egypt, “I have come
down to save.” But, this time, no mighty signs, just a child. “And this will be
a sign for you.” It is nuts. And, maybe, the mightiest sign of all.