- On December 8, 2023
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Running with the Shepherds
~Jacqueline Elliff, LPC~
Not too long ago, my family was reading the Christ
mas story from the Bible together. A portion from Luke chapter 2 captures the encounter the shepherds had with the angels on the night of Christ’s birth.
“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. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’
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. So they ran and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told to them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”
-Luke 2: 8-20
My husband asked our kids why they thought the shepherds were afraid when the angels came to them that night.
My six year old asked, “Because it was bright?”
Then our four year old promptly said, “Maybe because they were sinful.”
While the answer was unexpected and nearly felt like a roasting of those poor shepherds from my four year old, she had made a truly insightful remark. I’m sure the angelic encounter was surprising, glorious, and terrifying all at once. When a person encounters the presence of God or a heavenly being, they are often undone. Our sinful state is more evident than ever. Our unworthiness is unveiled. These shepherds were of a lowly occupation. One would not guess they would be the audience to receive a Messianic birth announcement from a host of angels!
While these common shepherds were stunned with fear, they did not let their status keep them from accepting this invitation from the Lord. Afterall, this divine and holy encounter was to bring exceedingly joyful news! After a long history of exile, battle, and oppression for God’s people, the long-awaited Savior had arrived! The angel’s announcement said this good news and great joy would “be for all people.” That included those lowly, homely shepherds. It includes the weary, broken, sick, poor, and sinful. No matter how undeserving one may feel, Jesus came for them too.
Hope was renewed and rejuvenated that night of Christ’s birth. The shepherds ran to find the newborn Savior! Can you imagine their elation? Wouldn’t you run too? We have all been invited to partake of the hope God has offered us in Jesus. We can rejoice like the shepherds, praising God for sending His Son. And we can share this glorious hope with others just as they did. May the joyful invitation of Christ fill you like the shepherds who ran to find him; if you seek Him, you will find Him too.