(visit Christian Devotions for the remainder of this post in the He Said -- She Said Series by Eddie Jones and Cindy Sproles)
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 that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior is born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and laying in a manager.” – Luke 2:10-12
Christmas came and went when I was a child. Each year, the parts for the Christmas program were cast and I always ended up an angel. Not such a bad part, a heavenly being, but not the part I wanted. I wanted to be a shepherd. They were the coolest. Giant hooked staffs and sheep. Since I had a great love for animals, shepherding seemed to be my forte’, though the program directors always thought my long blonde locks were better suited for the angel positions.
I love the story of the shepherds. Just imagine, sitting in the fields. Darkness broken with the flicker of the stars – uncountable stars. The silence was interrupted by the sound of chirping crickets and the flitting of night creatures. Life was peaceful and serene. When out of the blue an angel would appear (that would be me in the Christmas play). How awesome to have an angel of God light up the field where you set tending your sheep. Now that would be an eye opener. More so, being chosen to be privy to such wonderful news. How neat is that?
Jesus spent a great amount of time teaching all sorts of people about His Father. From the Jews to the Gentiles, the wealthy to the poor, and everyone in between. He only saw the need to teach, never the need to teach one more than another. So it doesn’t surprise me that God would send down an angel to the poorest of the poor – the shepherds. They, in the eyes of God, were equally as important as the Magi. Imagine that. Even at the announcement of the Christ child, God included the shepherds. These humble, meek and kind souls would serve as the example of the heart of Jesus. He was referred to as the Good Shepherd, the watcher of the flocks and ultimately, the sacrificial lamb. What a more logical choice of people with whom to share this great news. Jesus the Christ child – the Lamb of God.
I can remember grumbling over my silver tinsel halo one year, when my mother pulled out a picture from our family album. “Let me show you something.” She handed me a picture of a woman dressed as Mary, and a baby (cutest little rascal) grinning from ear to ear.
“That’s us.” She said.
“Us? As in me and you?”
“Yep. You were five months old. Probably very close to the age of Jesus when everyone finally arrived to see him. They had to walk you know. Didn’t have cars back then. It took a long time to get from one place to the next.”
“That’s me as baby Jesus?”
“Well, now that’s a set of shoes to fill, isn’t it? And I’m sure I liked being Jesus. But I really wanted to be a shepherd.” Mom shook her head and filed the picture away as a fruitless attempt to show me there were bigger parts to be had.
I definitely had been given an honor to play the part of Jesus, but what an equal honor to be chosen as the example Christ would follow in life. The gentle shepherd. The leader. The caretaker. The giver. The protector. Who better to view this child than the shepherds? The very symbol of the availability of Christ to all people.
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.” The shepherds wasted no time getting to the city and in humility they set the example by faithfully bowing and worshiping Him.
Years later, I still love the shepherds. I still long to one, but then God nudges me and reminds me that we are all shepherds – all responsible for tending those who do not know Him. Shepherding is hard work, and it bears little rest but great responsibility. The day Christ was born, an angel shared the news with them. How nifty is that? I think I’m happy these days. Once I figured out I finally got to be a shepherd.