December 17, 2014

Advent Adventure, Part 7

“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 of great joy that will be for all the people.…’” Luke 2:8-10 (NIV)

It was a night like no other. At first, it all appeared normal, with shepherds living out in the fields watching over their flocks. That’s when it happened! Suddenly, out of nowhere, Luke tells us that an angel appeared! I don’t know about you but, if I was one of those shepherds, I think it would have scared me out of my skin! You can always tell when it’s an angel because the first thing he tells them is, “Don’t be afraid.” Right! It must be predictable and humorous from the angels’ standpoints. I can almost hear them telling their angelic host, “I just got the assignment to speak to the shepherds and announce the birth of Jesus! This is going to be fun! It’s going to freak them out!” However, it all works; we’re told that not only did these angels appear to the Shepherds, but the glory of the Lord shone around them! In the Old Testament, the word for the glory of God is “Shekinah”, and it means the majestic presence or manifestation of God which descended to “dwell” among His people. Exodus 40:34 says, “Then the cloud [the Shekinah, God’s visible presence] covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle!” For the most part, this was a manifestation that only Moses or Aaron would see. On this night, however, God revealed His Shekinah Glory to lowly Shepherds! That’s why the third candle, a rose colored candle, on the Advent Wreath is called the “Shepherds Candle”, and it represents joy! Imagine being one of those shepherds. They were the first to receive the news! The first ones to see the Christ child were not the Kings or Wise Men from the East, but lowly no-named shepherds! Why shepherds? Why not priests or scribes? Shepherds were social outcasts in Israel. They were not even permitted in the Temple because their work made them ceremonially unclean! Yet, God would make it clear by His invitation that the good news of great joy was for ALL the people! That’s why it’s called good news! The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Good News! It’s good news for all people – not just one race, color, creed, or social class! He came for all! He came for you! Experience the joy of Christ this Christmas!