Saturday, December 31, 2016
Saturday Sermonette - The Shepherd's Gift
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 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, goodwill toward men! So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. Luke 2:8-19, NKJV.
(Continuing the story from last week)
Mary had just drifted into an exhausted sleep on their one blanket spread next to the manger where the Babe lay, wrapped warmly in old woven cloths. Joseph sat beside him, still gazing in wonder. The Child gazed back, gripping one of Joseph's fingers as babies do. The other arm alternately waved, punched the air, and stuck the clenched fist as far into the mouth as it would go. "Are You sure this is Your Son, Lord? He looks and acts no different than my little brother did."
The sound of voices interrupted Joseph's prayer. He stood and hurried to the opening to this old stable, hoping to quiet the men so as not to awaken poor Mary--she'd been so tired--but he was too late. She rubbed her eyes and sat up just as the men entered.
"That must be the One," the first man whispered, dropping to his knees.
Joseph guessed he was a shepherd from the hooked staff he carried. "The One?"
"The One the angels told us about."
"Angels?" Joseph gasped. "Where?"
A second shepherd nodded with enthusiasm. "We were watching over our flocks when the sky lit up like daylight, and there was this huge angel. 'Don't be afraid,' he said. "I bring news of great joy. The Savior, Christ the Lord, was born this night in the city of David. You'll find Him wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.' And then a huge herd of angels joined the first one, and they sang about God's glory and about peace on earth. When the angels disappeared, we hurried as fast as we could to see the Babe. Is this Infant the One we seek?"
Joseph ran a hand across his face. "Yes, He is." He walked back to the manger and sat beside Mary.
The shepherds as one dropped to their knees and bowed their faces to the straw-covered floor in front of the humble bed where the Child lay. When they lifted their heads, most of them scrubbed their eyes with the rough cloth of their woolen cloaks.
The Babe looked back at them as though pondering a few things Himself.
The first one spoke again. "We apologize if we disturbed your sleep, lady. We'll go back to our flocks now. We have been honored beyond our highest ambitions. Thank You for allowing us to see Him who will be our Savior and King.
Mary said nothing, turning her gaze on the Babe.
Joseph put one arm around her shoulders. "Thank you for coming and telling us about the angels. You answered the question of my heart this night. I won't doubt again."
"Nor will we, sir. Goodbye."
(next Friday the story continues)