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Posts Tagged ‘shepherds in the fields’

images-10At this time of year, I am looking for many things … free time, peace, relaxation, togetherness as a family, and a holy night experience.

This holy night experience is one which the Christmas Carol describes. It is one when “the stars are brightly shining” (that means no rain).

It is one that, if you go for a nighttime walk, you can almost imagine being there, in Bethlehem. The stars are brightly shining, and you follow quietly behind that young couple; he leading the beast who is as burdened as the young woman atop it, both feeling the weight of what they carry.

You see them enter the town gates, you see the relief flash on Joseph’s face, the relief that allows him to breath deeply, just as his lady beside him, breathing as the women in her hometown instructed her to, when the pains began.

As you follow along behind you feel the disappointment from the lack of vacancy in the first inn that Joseph inquired. Ah, but there are so many, he will just try again … and again … and … again.

There is no room for them. Mary tries to put on a brave face through the physical pains, feeling hope slip away. Joseph tries to put on a brave face, through the feelings of discouragement at not being able to provide for his increasingly suffering wife.

Finally, an option. An innkeeper offers a warm, dry, safe place … I wonder if Joseph felt the relief of finding a place, and the regret of having to tell his laboring wife that all he could find was a cave-like stable … I wonder if he felt thankfulness for the provision or failure that he was only able to offer a dirty animal refuge for the arrival of the son of God.

“Oh, hear the angel voices” … could Mary and Joseph hear and what was happening on the hillside outside of Bethlehem as it flooded with the light of the angelic chorus singing “sweet hymns of praise”?

As I imagine crouching in the corner of the stable, I try to read the expressions on the faces of the new parents. Their eyes filled with relief, and delight, no longer aware of their rustic conditions, no longer aware of anything except each other and the beautiful new child in their arms.

What were they thinking as they gazed into his eyes? Were their thoughts simply the thoughts of all new parents since the beginning of time, or were they looking at this child and seeing him as Christ?

Then the shepherds arrive, falling on their knees, telling their story of angels on the hillside. Praising his name, as the one who will “break the chains … cease oppression.”

If the new parents showed no acknowledgment of their son’s paternity and purpose earlier, I can almost imagine them looking at each other with wordless acknowledgment of what the other was thinking. Oh, the holy ground that they were on!

“Oh night divine,
Oh night,
Oh night divine”

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Some years it is easier to get in the mood for the Christmas season, and some years it is simply not something that comes easily. This year has been one that represents the later.

It is not that I do not like Christmas, or the extra trimmings that our society has added to it. It is not that I am sad or depressed. It is not even that I am abnormally busy (not being busy is the only abnormal that most people at my stage of life know).

This year just seems to be one of a lack of interest in lights, decorations, gifts and parties. This year I simply have one constant desire … just meditating on the birth of the Christ child.

I don’t want a modern single, teenage mom in stretchy jeans and braces … I want a young Jewish girl, betrothed to Joseph.

I don’t want to give and receive presents that are not needed (and possibly not even wanted) … I want wise men who came from the East.

I really don’t even want to go to parties, with food and drink piled high, I would rather stay home and research the original Christmas story, then write a post about what I have learned.

I just want a Silent Night, the First Noel and Away in a Manger … simple, special, sacred.

Yet, all around me is the noise of partying everywhere, complete with all the wrappings; excesses of food and drink, rooms full of people celebrating and no one aware that the celebration is about a baby. A baby born on a night when all around was noise, the noise of travelers traveling, complete with excesses of food and drink, and all the rooms were full. And no one was aware that way out in that stable cave in the rock, their Savior was being born, taking His first Earthly breath, drinking in His first drink, and his parents (on Earth and in heaven) celebrated.

Annunciation to the Herders, Govert Flinck 1639But not just His parents. Out in the fields, a way off from the town of Bethlehem, were shepherds living and caring for their sheep, and out of nowhere angels appeared to the shepherds, and they too were celebrating, and praising God, while saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:13-14)

And the celebrations continue to this day.

So, as we go through the motions of the worldly celebrations around us, like a people gathering due to a census, complete with all the trimmings. It is good to not forget what the shepherds did once the celebration came to them, from heaven,

“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven,
the shepherds said to one another,
“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened,
which the Lord has told us about.””
(Luke 2:13-15)

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