Imagine for a minute you’re one of the shepherds interrupted by an angel in the midst of your night shift caring for your sheep.
You receive a message that the Savior of the world is born. But, before that ever registers, there’s a problem. You’re terrified.
The phrase “they were terrified” means both fear and flight, as in running away. The shepherds could have run the other direction in terror-stricken flight. They could have tried to outrun the angels. They could have tried to outrun God. (But we all know how well those options work!)
Do you hear what they’re saying to us? The shepherds could have run away from the good news. But, instead, they ran toward the good news.
Here’s the Question
The question the shepherds seem to be posing is this: Are you running toward God or running away from God?
When the angels appear to the shepherds, they have to make a quick decision: Will you receive the message of “Do not be afraid. I have good news.” Or, are you going to flee the scene in terror?
Which do you choose on a regular basis?
Perhaps by now, you’re thinking, “Why did God choose the shepherds to be the messengers of Christ’s birth?”
It could be the shepherds are chosen because they embody what it means to trust.
Here are three characteristics of trust the shepherds embodied.
If there is anything the shepherds were, they were reliable. Day and night they tended to their sheep. But, when a messenger of God shows up and says “Christ the Lord is in a manger in Bethlehem in swaddling cloth,” you go. You do what the angels say.
Additionally, there is trust among the shepherds. When they receive an invitation to “go and tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born,” they not only go together, but share the good news with people they encounter.
The shepherds could have stayed in their half-awake state. They could have chosen comfort over courage. But they chose courage instead. Might it be that God’s messengers invited the shepherds to carry the message to the world
In receiving the heavenly host of angels the shepherds also extend the most generous interpretation of one another. We don’t hear – there was one shepherd questioning why shepherd of the east hill was included. They were in this together.
Now, if you’re thinking, the angels chose the shepherds? You’re not alone. They were chosen for all the reasons above and many more. Sometimes, it’s the unlikely messengers who carry the greatest responsibility to share the good news.
After all, it’s the shepherds who remind us, “Everything happened just as they were told – they went home praising God.”
Maybe you will too.
Listen and Read about the Courage of the Characters of Christmas
The Courage of the Angels
The Courage of Mary
The Courage of Joseph
The Courage of Elizabeth
The Courage of Zechariah
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