Advent Devotion - Week 2 - The Shepherd's Staff
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!
Shepherds--not something you usually talk about unless you’re in church. In fact, come to think of it, I’ve never known a real life shepherd. Maybe you haven’t either. From my experience, this isn’t a growing field of work. Our modern life has changed farming, how we raise livestock, and just about everything else we do. Yet, there is much we modern-day folk can learn from this group of wandering sheep herders.
As Pastor Ted said some of the most important people in scripture started out as shepherds. Makes you wonder if all that time spent in the fields with your own thoughts was instrumental to connecting with God or if the lessons in leading sheep were the beginning of men like David and Moses learning how to lead people. By the time the New Testament story of Jesus birth rolls around, it seems like these famous shepherds are a thing of the past. The shepherds in the Christmas story aren’t even named. We don’t even know how many of them there are, and as Pastor mentioned, the reputation of a
shepherd now proceeds him, but not in a good way. They have fallen out of style and fallen from grace. Enter the angels and their proclamation. The all-knowing, all powerful, all loving God of the universe decides that this is the moment for his son to come into the world, and that of all the people to
deliver the birth announcement to....let’s go with shepherds! Despite our nativity scenes full of animals (and usually three wise men atop camels) the shepherds are actually the only ones who come to see the baby Jesus. I often wonder what Mary must have thought. If I had just given birth, in a less than an ideal setting, how thrilled would I be to have a group of stinking, dirty shepherds come strolling in to look at my baby in the middle of the night?
Shepherds are so ordinary, but when they are brought into God’s story they become extraordinary. It never ceases to amaze me how God shows up in such unexpected ways. How his invitation can change everything for someone. He is in the redemption business.
There a section of scripture that I love. It says, “see he is making all things new,” all things. Shepherds may have become fringe members of their society, but God pulls them from the peripheral right into the center of his story. The Christmas story is God’s story, not the shepherd’s story. You and my story is also God’s story.
In the same way that He pulled the shepherds near to him, he is inviting us to be a part of what he’s doing in the world. Doesn’t matter who you are, what your reputation is. You may be well respected, or a joke. God is writing his story in our lives, and this is a redemption story. This story is the one where against all odds love wins, this is the story where grace changes everything. This is the story where sacrifice, and service become more important than comfort. This is the story where God dwells among us, and our lives are never the same. This is the story where nobody’s become the ones who get
to be a part of what God is doing.