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Tag: Shepherds

Angels bowing

Have You Harked with the Hearlds?

 angels bowing in reverance

I remember sitting on my friend’s back porch on a summer night, watching a meteor shower. Tiny streaks of light shot across the sky before disappearing. Such a sight was probably common for the shepherds who slept under the stars near their flocks. Until one night, an angel of the Lord appeared, and the sky filled with the radiance of God’s glory, surrounding them in light.

The Bible says the shepherds were terrified. These were boys and men who’d fought off wolves, bears, and lions to defend their sheep, so for them to be frightened is saying something. The first thing the angel says is not to be afraid, that he has come with good news that will bring great joy to all the people. A messiah has been born in the City of Bethlehem, and you’ll find him in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes (Luke 2).

Interestingly, the angel doesn’t send them off to see the baby straight away. He doesn’t draw a map or tell them to eat up for the journey. He doesn’t give the details of how Mary and Joseph landed in Bethlehem or how the newborn Savior will someday ransom the captives free and save the world. The first thing the angel does after announcing the birth of Jesus is to worship. A heavenly host joins the angel praising, “Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace to those in whom His favor rests.” Luke 2:14

The first thing the shepherds and angels did at the first Christmas was worship.

This put me in my place. What was the first thing I started to do at Christmas? Shop. Decorate. Make lists of who I need to buy presents for. I can hear Charlie Brown saying, “Good grief.” I have a friend who I tease for playing Christmas music in October, but now I know she has the right Christmas attitude—beginning with a heart of worship.

baby praying

Jesus tells the Samaritan woman in Luke 4:23, “But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.” Worship isn’t just a genre of Christian music—with a slower tempo and reverent tone. It’s realizing in our hearts and minds how great God is and how dependent we are upon Him. Sometimes it’s a deeper understanding of how lost we are, how stained, dirtied, and defiled we are by sin, but then realizing the lengths God has gone to save us, wipe us clean, and cast our sins as far as the east is from the west. When we consider the greatness of our God, our hearts can’t help but want to sing, dance, or shout His praise.

Worship can come in all forms:

  • hands lifted
  • The angels and heavenly hosts singing
  • The shepherds telling everyone they saw about a savior born as a baby in a manger
  • The woman with the bottle of perfume pouring it over Jesus and wiping his feet clean with her hair and tears.
  • For King David, it was dancing (sometimes naked but I’d recommend only doing that in the shower, so you don’t get arrested), playing his harp, singing, or silent moments of selah.

For me, a form of worship is writing these blogs and reflecting on how God has changed me through all my crazy life stories that I get to share with you. I’m so grateful to God for this opportunity and thank you for being such a valuable part of it.

If, like me, you’ve been caught up in the busyness of the Christmas season. Take a moment to worship. Stop wherever you are and reflect for a second on God’s goodness. Tell Him how amazing He is and thank Him for how He’s changed your life.

God is listening, and you’ll be blessed by it.

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Magi following Star of Bethlem

Wishing You a Messy Christmas

One of my favorite Christmas stories is The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robertson. I choke up every time I read about the Herdman children, a ragtag group of troublemaking siblings, who discover the true meaning of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, book cover by Barbara RobinsonChristmas while performing in a church pageant. As I read, my kids will hear my voice crack, look up, and shake their heads, “Mom, are you crying?” I’m touched by how Imogene Herdman’s veil is smudged and crooked, and Leroy Herdman, dressed as one of the Wise Men, carries in the ham given them by social services instead of the customary bowl of incense. They made the church’s lovely, traditional pageant into a messy, discombobulated event.

Which, truth be told, was much more how the real event happened.

The delivery of all of my children took place in a hospital with nurses and doctors caring for me. They all suited up for the delivery and scrubbed with sanitizer before they entered the delivery room. Mary, a teenager, gave birth in a lowly dirt floor manger among animals and straw. There were no nurses to hold her hand and tell her when to push. There was no doctor to gently guide baby Jesus into this world. He was born in a barn and slept in an animal’s water trough with sheep bleating and donkey’s neighing.

And then God’s guests appeared. Back in Jesus’s day, there was no indoor plumbing. There was no deodorant. People stank especially those that tended Shepherd and sheepafter animals like shepherds. Shepherds spent days under the hot sun and slept on the cold ground at night. After the Israelites settled in agricultural based Egypt, shepherding lost its prominent position as a trade. Sheep and goats were a threat to crops and therefore a menace to settled farmers. Shepherds were relegated to pastoring their animals only in desert areas and were shunned like tax collectors (Shepherd’s Status, Alcorn 2008). Yet, God sent an angel to invite them to be the first to meet the savior.

There is not much known about the wise men, except that they were called magi and came from the East. Historical records depict the magi as dreamers and stargazers. They sat in the presence of kings who asked their advice for Magi following Starinterpreting astrological signs, dreams, and omens. But, they didn’t know everything as seen in the story of Daniel and in Joseph. When the magi were asked to interpret King Nebuchadnezzar and the Egyptian Pharaoh’s dreams, these wise men didn’t have the answers. They were still searching. So when a bright star appeared in the night these pagan magicians felt compelled to follow it through the desert and bow down to exalt a Hebrew baby as king (Magi, Wise Men or Kings? It’s complicated. by Chad Ashby).

When I think of Jesus’s birth, it’s as if God went out of his way to make a point: Jesus came for everyone. God chose for His one and only son to be born to a teenage girl in a dirty manger. The first visitors were stinky shepherds and pagan astrologers.

If anyone ever wonders if they are good enough to be loved by God, please remember the Christmas story. God didn’t send His son just to save the righteous. Jesus is the gift of amazing grace available to anyone willing to accept the offering. God gave His son to become the light and hope for the blue-collar shepherds, the spiritually lost intellectuals, and the Herdmans of this world.

And most of all, He came for you.

Wishing you a merry and messy, Christmas, because we all need a savior.

If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, here’s a snippet from the Best Christmas Pageant Ever movie (1983) where the Herdman’s are performing the Christmas Story.

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