Our fifth Advent Journey is the shortest in terms of physical distance but is just as momentous as the previous four!
Luke 2.8 tells us that ‘there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night’, so no long journey to make when they had recovered from the shock that hit them while minding their sheep.
The angels have been busy, with Gabriel visiting the central, important characters in the story encouraging them not to be afraid, and here on the night of the birth, as an angel of the Lord brings the same message to the terrified shepherds – ‘Fear not, for behold I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people’.
With the gentleness of Nativity Plays and the additions referred to yesterday,we can too easily miss the impact of that day in Bethlehem.
Out there on the Bethlehem hills the ‘Glory of the Lord’ accompanied the angels visit.
This was surely the same glory that filled the Temple as it was dedicated (2 Chronicles 7.1-2 ) preventing the priests from entering, and indeed revealed in many other places in the OT.
This was something so magnificent that the shepherds were filled with fear but now the Glory of the Lord could be approached as they travelled down to see the ‘Saviour who is Christ the Lord’. Furthermore this is not something which is limited to a few. This is for ALL people.
We live in a world of fear and so the message spoken to the shepherds and their response, (Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened) and (..when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds had told them.) Luke 2.15;17-18, is what the world needs but does not know where to find it, or refuses to believe it when told.
Paul writes these words in 2 Corinthians 4.6 (ESV) For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
The majority, if not all who read this, will acknowledge that this is so. So let us be sure that nothing we say or do will deflect people’s gaze from alighting on the baby in the manger whose birth caused the ‘glory of God’ to shine on Bethlehem on that unique day. Let us be sure that all we think and say and do reflects that glory to others who might then do as Mary did and ponder these things in their hearts until the glory of God shines on them producing the same result as on the Bethlehem shepherds.