“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people; for unto you is born, this day, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” Luke 2:10, 11
The night was peaceful except for the irrepressible wail of a newborn echoing in the darkness. In the distance, there were men trembling from the cold . . . spent by years of routine. Exhaustion gave way to duty. Distress gave way to relief. Several of their grazing sheep had strayed too far. Defenseless creatures finally found by one of the shepherds. They were committed to this life of isolation. Married to this bride of silence. They were not used to the stir and excitement of the city. Their roof was the vault of heaven. Their blanket was the canopy of stars. Sameness and monotony did not diminish their gratitude for their home in the fields. Everyday there was the rustling of the wind in the grass, the plaintive cries of the sheep and an occasional distant howl of a wolf. Nothing exciting ever caused their hearts to beat faster until that night.
As anguish and agony shadowed a young delicate face, a child pressed forth from a womb into this dimension and its cry— the laughter of a newborn pierced the dark night. Suddenly a light filled the heavens as if it was noonday, which frightened them. The glory of the Lord shone bright — a resplendent sight and reassuring voice to the hosts of heaven and to all people on earth of good tidings of peace and joy. It was all Eve ever hoped for. It was all Mary ever knew. The magnificent sight mesmerized even earthly kings, but these were shepherds not wise men. Oh, how they wished they could express in words the mystery of this night that was so precious, gripping, just past the mettle of men. Then the heavens burst into song— a great multitude in concert— a symphony of praise. Angelic voices filled the night air tenderly touching human ears and bringing peace to humble shepherds and comfort to the excited heart of a young mother and delight to the soul of her newborn child.
The shepherds stood entranced for nothing in their life experiences had prepared them for this. And they wondered in unison why God would “waste” such a moment, such a glorious announcement on simple shepherds, on such uneducated men? Yet in spite of their consternation they became willing vessels. So without haste, they made their way to Bethlehem to see if the words the angels had assigned to their hearts would manifest in their lives. But instead of a palace and a King in royal robes, they found Mary and Joseph, and a Babe lying in a manger. The sight of the newborn child had a peculiar effect on the normally silent and uncommunicative shepherds. Their tongues were immediately loosed and the stoic became supple. Enthusiastic couriers of Good News! But still they couldn’t fully understand the significance of this night as it related to the child. They didn’t understand why Kings would bow or heaven would alter its patterns of light or the angels would compose an eternal song. And though Kings understood one must always bow down in the presence of a higher authority, humble shepherds only knew the ways of the wilderness. They only understood duty and responsibility: that standing not bowing was watching; that walking not cowering was protecting. So they innocently asked, “Can’t we walk instead?” And the most magnificent spectacle ever witnessed occurred. An angel gingerly reached out and touched the tiny hand of the child and the entire meadow revealed hordes of angels bowing to the newborn King. They looked at one another in absolute astonishment and without wasting another moment fell to the ground with parched lips kissing the earth in gratitude. Now all the years littered with the fatigue of sameness coupled with the love that had been trapped in taciturn voices tenderly whispered the name of Jesus.