Summary: Christmas Eve. The story of the shepherds is narrated in second person. The testimony of the apostles has come to us in scripture therefore we too, as did the shepherds, have seen the Christ, the babe in the manger.
May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in Thy sight,
O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
“Over to Bethlehem”
It’s Here. Christmas Eve. We have been preparing for Christmas throughout Advent. We have lit the advent wreath. Counted down the days on the calendar. And now it is Christmas Eve. It’s Here. But for a moment, let’s go there. Over there to Bethlehem.
Can you feel it, the cool wind blowing in the fields? The land is hilly, and there aren’t many trees to stop the wind, so it can even be chilly. So you wear a wool cloak over your robe, with a shawl pulled up over your head like a hood. Wool is the one thing you have plenty over. You are poor, but you are a shepherd. So you have wool in abundance.
You live out in the countryside. Sheep needs tending 24/7. They have to be guided by day, and guarded at night. It’s your turn to watch. The fire is burning nearby. This countryside is not far from Jerusalem. It is just past that little town of Bethlehem. That little town is not so sleepy right now. There are people here from everywhere. Roman is taking a census. And census means taxes to follow. Your glad you live out here with your sheep. In the peace and quiet.
The sky is inky black. Have you seen the night sky, far from the city. The stars dazzle even brighter against the bottomless darkness. What !! What is that? Like deer in the headlight you are blinded. The light is so bright it knocks you down. It seems to fill your body.
Fear Not. Yeah, right, you think. Fear Not. I bring you good news of great rejoicing. The voice pounds against your chest. What, or Who is this? For to you is born this day in the city of David, as Savior. The Messiah, the Lord. How do I know this is true? This will be sign for you. You will find the baby wrapped up in cloths, and laying in a manger.
The light becomes even brighter. It surrounds you on every side. Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace, goodwill to men.
Then. Nothing. It’s all over. You feel like you’re waking up, like you’ve been dreaming. But you been awake the whole it. You weren’t dreaming. It wasn’t a dream. It was real. You’ve seen an angel. From heaven. From the Lord. And not just one angel, a whole host of them, it filled the entire sky.
So you turn and see your fellow shepherds. They look dazed. They saw it, too. Let’s go over to Bethlehem, and see what the angel told us about. You grab your staff and start. Your feet keep moving faster and faster. You find that you are running to Bethlehem.
What will you do when you get there? It’s a small town, though. And as a shepherd you know where the stables are. There not too many to check. Nothing here. How about here? No, not this one. Was this true? And then. Then. You see them. A man and a young woman. In a stable. A there, is this tiny, new born baby. still red and wrinkly. “You will find a baby, lying in a manger.” It’s true. It’s true.