How would you react if heaven came down to you in the night sky in the form of a multitude of angelic beings while you were outside with a couple of friends? I’m thinking of the words “heart attack” for me. This morning as I began reading the story of Jesus’ birth, I read how this actually happened to a small band of shepherds who were out in the fields at night watching over and protecting their sheep. Scripture tells us that in that instant, those shepherds were terrified. Who wouldn’t be? (Luke 2:8-20)
As I continued reading through the story, my thoughts kept coming back to those shepherds. I thought of the fact that in the midst of this Holy sight, where heavenly hosts are filling the night sky with singing and where gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh were being laid before the newborn King by the wise men, God had also brought shepherds. In contrast to the beauty and majesty of the angels and the wealth of the wise men in all of their finery, the shepherds were covered in dirt. Their skin was tough and dry from their days in the sun and their hands were rough and calloused from hard work. They were uneducated; taking care of livestock was all that they knew, yet God called them. God came down and met them where they were to share with them the Good News that was to be a game-changer for the world. Do you know what the shepherds did after receiving such news? They left their flocks and ran to see this new King. They left their livelihoods behind to seek out that which was infinitely more valuable. Scripture doesn’t tell us if they brought a gift to lay before the King as the wise men did, but I believe that since we are told that they left in “haste” it means that they left behind everything and just took off. Their thoughts were only on beholding the face of this new baby that angels proclaimed as Savior; the long-awaited Messiah. However, what God opened my eyes to was that perhaps the greatest gift that the shepherds did have to offer was what they indeed gave to this new King. It was the gift of their hearts.
Reading on in scripture we are told that after the shepherds hurried to get to the place beneath the star in the sky, they were so touched by what they saw and experienced that they left there “glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen.” They began to spread the word of what they had witnessed that night to all that they had met along the way. God had called the lowest of the low to be witnesses to His glory, majesty, and power. What then, do we do with this realization? Well, as you prepare to celebrate Christmas, the birth of Jesus, consider what you have to bring as a gift. I believe God calls each of us to just come as we are, dirt and all and to give the most valuable gift we have. The same gift that the shepherds brought. Our hearts; our presence. Are you willing, as the shepherds were, to leave all behind in order to seek out the Savior? In the midst of all of the chaos of preparations and shopping, stop, bend the knee and just “BE” in the presence of the King of Kings who is waiting for you to come.