The Shepherd Surprise

It was a night like any other night. On a hillside outside of Bethlehem three shepherds huddled together around a small fire and discussed the bright star in the night sky. It shone brighter than any other star and spread its golden light all the way to earth. What could it mean? Each man expressed an opinion—it was a sign that God was angry with Bethlehem. Another said it was a blessing for the small town, while the third said the light would blind all who looked at it. Superstition and fantasy were proclaimed with as much certainty as fact. All alone, doing one of the lowliest jobs, the shepherds’ imaginations were given free rein.

One of the men got up and checked on the sheep. Obviously, the sheep didn’t care about the star or anything for that matter. They were grazing and sleeping peacefully in the meadow. As the shepherd walked back to the warmth of the fire, he began to hear a sound far away. It was a sound he had never heard before. It was like singing, but not any he had ever heard before. He searched all around him and then looked up. A bright light was streaming towards him and he became afraid. He ran to join the others and excitedly told them about what was happening. Both of the shepherds leaped to their feet, ready to run away from the light that was getting closer by the second.

Before the men could flee, a voice as sweet as the sweetest honey spoke to them, telling them not to be afraid. They had Good News to share! One of the angels explained that the Messiah had been born in Bethlehem in a humble stable and placed in a manger. The Messiah, they explained, was for everyone, not only for the rich and powerful. Then, the Angels sang a song of praise so beautiful it made the shepherds weep with joy.  When the Angels departed, the men rushed to the town to see the infant. He was easy to find; they simply followed the star’s guiding light. Once they drew near to the stable, they heard the baby’s mother singing softly to him. Shyly they approached and knelt down before Mary and baby Jesus. They told Mary about the Angels and the message of Good News. Then they departed, singing praises to God, and returned to their sheep. Little did they know how the tiny baby would change the world, and give mankind hope and comfort. The men could not explain all that had happened, but they knew they would be different from that moment on. The long-awaited Messiah had come.

Luke 2:8-20And 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. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 15 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.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

Debra Ison