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Heaven greets Earth: Christmas Series Part 15

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.” Luke 2:8-9, KJV

Perhaps one of the shepherds had just added wood to the fire; maybe one of the men had just returned with a straying lamb upon his shoulder; perhaps another one had just cracked a joke. Then faster than lightning, they were jolted out of their everyday monotony by a close encounter of the heavenly kind.

Who can even imagine what that must have been like? The sound and smell of sheep, the familiar camaraderie of fellow shepherds, the usual constellations and night breezes, and then, suddenly—Light! Blinding, shimmering, holy light shone all around them—and in the midst of it stood the angel of the Lord. They were terrified.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”   Luke 2:10

Fear not?! I was less afraid when that lion that sneaked up on us last year! one of the shepherds might have said to himself. But strangely, the odd salutation seemed to calm their jittery nerves. Squinting and rubbing their eyes, they strained to make sense of what was happening. Who is this and what’s he saying about good news…something about all people?

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”  Luke 2:11

Well, I’ll be, someone must have mused. He’s talking about our own Bethlehem! The shepherds stole glances at one another.  A Savior? Born today? Could he be talking about the Messiah? Almost afraid to breathe, they dared not move, intent upon understanding every word coming from the mouth of this heavenly stranger.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12

Now, there’s something I get—a manger; I’ve filled plenty of those in my time, one of the shepherds might have thought to himself. But who would put a baby in a manger? I don’t get that part at all! Especially if this Child is the Messiah!

“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, good will toward men.” Luke 2:13-14

Before their very eyes, the sky filled with an enormous company of angels, their voices resounding through the hills, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Hearts pounding out of their chests, the shepherds must have trembled, wept, and stared skyward with mouths agape.

When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, ‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’” Luke 2:15

How long the angels remained above the shepherds’ encampment is left to speculation. How long before the shepherds could even speak one to another is also unknown. But one thing is perfectly clear; the shepherds knew they had been visited by messengers of the Living God. They understood that they were summoned to witness the intersection of God and Man. Perhaps the old Psalm whispered in their hearts:

Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him that glory may dwell in our land. Lovingkindness and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth springs from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven.” Psalm 85:9-11

So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.” Luke 2:16

Maybe the shepherds left one or two of the younger ones with the sheep; nevertheless, it was with great haste that they made their way to town and found the stable. And there was the baby, lying in a manger, just as the angel said.

When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Luke 2:17-19

The small band of rough, plainspoken shepherds related their tale of angels and glory to the mother of the Child and her husband. Others who had already gathered there to see the newborn heard the astonishing story as well. Wonder and awe filled that little shelter; Mary, still a virgin, treasured all that she was hearing as she soaked up everything this motley crew had to say.

The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.” Luke 2:20

Everyday life beckoned the shepherds back to their post; but as they departed from there, the glory of God welled up within them and they could not help but praise Him for all they had witnessed. Surely God is with men; surely God is with us!

May you, too, experience that God is with you—because He is!


© 2015, Dorothy Frick