Christmas Eve 2003
quote du jour:
"Christmas -- that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance -- a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved." -- Augusta E. Rundello

I've never done any shepherding. I wasn't even sure shepherding was a word until I looked it up. Yet, I can't imagine it to be a really exciting line of work -- especially in the really old days.

I would guess there would be lots of walking in uncomfortable footware (New Balance wasn't formed until 1906). I'm sure that always being out on the range or pasture or whatever wreaked havoc on the home life. And I'm almost positive that there were entirely too many quiet, lonely nights. Well, okay... so they probably weren't quiet. I doubt that you could get an entire herd of sheep to shut up for long. But they certainly must have been lonely -- just you, your shepherd buddies and a bunch of loud sheep.

So what do you think it was like that night?

The last of the stubborn sheep were corralled. There might have been a campfire. For some reason, I imagine it was one of those nights so clear that looking toward the stars makes you feel as though you can see forever. And then, out of nowhere, the power of the Lord enveloped everything in the form of an angel.

     "And there were in the same country shepherds biding 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."

I'll be honest. If someone told me that they had seen an angel appear to them in the middle of a field, I'd be skeptical. I would probably suggest that they have their medication adjusted. I can't imagine that it would be much different for those shepherds. Angel sightings couldn't have been commonplace. When the scripture says that they were sore afraid, I believe it.

     "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 Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And
     this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped
     in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."

Many people -- including myself -- have remarked how our entire world seemed to change at 8:46 a.m. EDT on the morning of September 11th. Admittedly, we've been different ever since.

So how did those shepherds feel as the angel appeared to them and told them of the birth of their savior? I imagine that they felt overwhelmed many times more than any of us could have on 9-11. In one moment, they're just shepherds in a field. In the very next moment, they've been given a divine message that the entire world has changed for the better. How awesome is that?

     "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.

It was just another night in the fields... and then, out of the blue, angels showed up with word that nothing would ever be the same again. I wonder how I would have reacted if it had been me in the fields that night.

It's almost too much to imagine in today's world. We're so scientific now. We require proof and reasoning for all that we experience. I don't think that those things are all bad... but they do limit some of life's possibilities. I think it would make it much harder for us to witness or, at least, believe in a miracle today. Some things are bigger than ourselves... bigger than our world. This time of year should help remind us of that.

I'm no saint. You know that if you read this journal. I try to be a nice guy, but I screw up a lot. I think, say & do things I shouldn't. Sometimes, I think, say & do those things over and over again -- seemingly in spite of the knowledge that I shouldn't. I struggle with that from time to time. Yet, as a believer in Jesus Christ, I take comfort in knowing that all is not lost.

I'm a big fan of the secular Christmas. I like my Santa Claus, jingle bells and snowmen just as much (probably more) as the next guy. But tonight, as the holiday hoopla reaches its climax, I encourage us all to save a little time to think about the news those angels showed up to deliver to the shepherds.

On a night roughly 2,000 years ago, God gave us all a chance. He gave us his son, Jesus. What a Christmas present that was -- and still is today.

     "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten
     Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but
     have everlasting life." - John 3:16 KJV

Merry Christmas.

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