Dec. 21, 2012
Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night. – Luke 2:8
Being a shepherd wasn’t a fun job. It wasn’t what most young boys aspired to be. It was stinky, dirty and demanding. Sheep don’t take a day off and so it’s difficult to take time off. But it was a job.
A couple weeks ago, Midland hosted our “Live Nativity,” where we recreate the Christmas story in a barn. To make it more authentic, we had some sheep. The most popular one was Katie. Born early, Katie is not a normal sheep. She’s very friendly and loves to be with people. Katie’s owners, Vince and Nancy, encouraged us to just let Katie wonder around the barn. She would be the hit of the show … and she was.
Whenever someone walked to the front of the barn or to the back, her little hoofs clicked in step as she followed folks. When the shepherds went on stage by Mary and Joseph, so did Katie. She’s the kind of sheep a shepherd would love: gentle, easy-going and friendly.
Most sheep are skittish. They like to be in packs and keep together with other sheep. Most sheep when singled out are not quite sure what to do. After the nativity, we were loading up the sheep other than Katie. One got away. Having raised sheep, I quickly knew this was going to be a challenge. We spent the next 30 minutes trying to catch her. Just about the time we had her cornered, she would dart through. Add to this, a few inches of wet snow and we and the sheep were sliding all over the yard. Had not a young man stopped and hung on for dear life, I’m not sure how we would have caught her. She just wasn’t familiar with us.
It was another long, cold night along the hillsides in Bethlehem. The shepherds took turns handling the night watch. Little did they know this night would not be like any other night. The most unlikely people to be the first to hear about the Messiah’s birth, it was no accident God chose shepherds. This Messiah would be for all people, even the simplest and lowly shepherds. This Messiah would accept all kinds of sheep and love them just the way they are. This is a Messiah that would change the world.
Lord God – Certainly the shepherds were not expecting heavenly visitors. They were nameless, simple men and boys who were just taking care of their sheep. The sheep were very familiar and comfortable with them, much like Katie. Yet they were patient with the skittish ones also. Help us see Jesus as our shepherd who watches over us daily. Amen.