I've always been fascinated by the shepherds to whom the angels appeared on that first Christmas night. I mean, here are these guys out on a hill, watching their sheep. They might have been talking about the weather or shooting the breeze about the best method to fight off a wild animal. Being a shepherd wasn't the most exciting job in the world. Mostly you just led the sheep around and made sure they didn't get lost or hurt.
All of a sudden, an angel appears out of nowhere and starts talking to them. I'm pretty sure that angels aren't the cute little cherubs that we like to depict them as because every time an angel shows up the first words out of his mouth are "Do not be afraid." I think they probably look more like warriors than they do cute, little cherubs.
Ok, so this angel shows up and has these shepherds quaking in their sandals. And what does he say? Luke 2:8-11 describes the scene like this "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 that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.'"
The first people that got the message that the Savior had been born was not a king or even a religious leader. It was a bunch of lowly shepherds. These guys were not considered important people in society. They were probably the youngest sons in their families. They weren't the smartest, strongest, most important people around. They were just normal, everyday people.
And, what did they do? They left their sheep to go see Jesus! Shepherds don't leave their sheep. Sheep are defenseless without a shepherd. But these guys got up and went to see Jesus. Now, maybe they left one guy behind (and wouldn't you have hated to be him?), but they immediately went to see this amazing thing the angels had told them about.
I bet God wishes we were more like the shepherds sometimes. He shows us something amazing, and instead of being awed by it or immediately dropping what we're doing to be a part of what God is doing, we analyze and overthink the situation. The shepherds knew they were part of something amazing -- I mean, angels had just appeared to them -- so they went to check it out.
As you learn these verses this week, think about how the shepherds reacted to the Good News of Jesus' birth. They dropped everything to celebrate. How can you celebrate Jesus' birth like the shepherds did?
- Have a birthday party for Jesus. Make a cake and sing happy birthday to Jesus. You can even hang streamers. Talk about how God wants us to praise Him and celebrate Jesus' birth.
- Analyze your schedule for the month. Are you doing things that are just filling up your schedule instead of things that are important. Is Jesus getting squeezed out of your Christmas celebrations or is He the center? Make adjustments to your schedule to put Jesus at the center.
- Talk with your kids about the shepherds and how they celebrated Jesus' birth. Ask your kids how they think the shepherds might have felt when the angels showed up.
Be a shepherd this week. Be prepared to drop everything when a moment to celebrate Jesus' birth presents itself.