Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Abiding in the Field
I mean, out of all the choirs, priests, prophets and prayer warriors, why did God send the Heavenly Hosts to a pasture in search for a worship team? Why not assemble an army to wake up the town declaring the good news? Why not pull out all the stops and send a parade complete with talking donkeys down the streets of Bethlehem? Wouldn't dancers with beautiful ribbons and choirs declaring the greatness of God make more sense? Or even a band reminiscent of the crumbling walls of Jericho. Wouldn't that be a better way to announce the birth of the Savior in the stable?
Why, after roaming His eyes to the ends of the earth and back, did God face his angel-servants and point a perfectly Holy finger in the direction of a dark pasture full of woolly sheep and sleep deprived shepherds? Could it be that our Father has an affinity for shepherds in general? I mean, after all, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were all shepherds and God chose that bloodline to bless all nations. David was a shepherd and being so, an unlikely candidate for the crown, and yet was said to have had a heart after God. And the infant being delivered in the manger was the prophesied Shepherd in the flesh. It's possible that God, after a history of choosing shepherds to spread His Glory simply continued with His perfect theme and pointed to the sheep herders out of sheer order and symbolism. But it's just as likely that following suit never crossed the mind of our Creator on that precious Night of nights.
Think about it. That night was indeed a Holy night and surely the God of the universe was in the mood to celebrate. After all, the heaven-sent message did tell a story of "good news and great joy!" The same God who had allowed His people to honor Him with celebration after celebration, feast after feast, and passover after passover was now poised to receive the 'great joy' due Him after the delivery of humanity's Savior. And on that night, it was obvious that He was unwilling to waste His time convincing people that the baby being born in the barn was worth celebrating. Imagine how much conversation would have to take place between the phrase, "baby in the manger" and "let's go straight to Bethlehem!" You see, I think we forget that humanity has been trained to turn their noses up at families who find themselves in the predicament Mary and Joseph were in. Let's face it, we'd pity that family, not celebrate it. And God knew it. Maybe that's why God didn't send the angel to the choir, the priests, the prophets or the prayer warriors. Remember, people know who we want to be. God knows who we are.
God knew who the priests wanted to be.
And He knew who the shepherds were.
You see, those shepherds in the field keeping watch over their flocks- they had a different idea of the manger than we do. While they may very well have been the poor, smelly old men our Sunday school teachers told us about, they, by their very nature, had a better view of the barn than we do. We may associate the barn with poverty, and we wouldn't be wrong to do so. After all, a mere thirty days later paints the picture of Mary offering a couple of birds as an offering because she couldn't afford the lamb. But the shepherds' response to a birth in the barn was fundamentally different than ours. As shepherds, they had spent their lives celebrating manger beginnings. As a matter of fact, stable deliveries had grown to mean the opposite of poverty to the shepherds. Because they spent their lives raising and protecting a herd of livestock, the 'baby in the manger' could only mean LIFE, LIVELIHOOD and BLESSING to the simple shepherds in the field. It's no wonder they dropped everything and hurried to the barn to see what God was talking about. Life had trained them to see the Miracle in the Manger. Providence had been pretty effective in using the simple shepherds to shame the wise. And on that Night of nights, the messenger didn't have any problem convincing the shepherds in the field that the Good News deserved great joy.
It's not too late to celebrate, you know? Part of the beauty of the Christmas story is that it is eternal. Every year, you get another chance to be a shepherd in a field. You get the opportunity to believe the poor family in the barn is literally blessed beyond measure. And each December, You get to decide for yourself how much 'great joy' you're going to give the 'Good News."