They were just out in the fields working, watching over the flocks of sheep that were their livelihood—just going about their business when their shift was interrupted by one angel with a message. Rubbing their eyes the shepherds must have tried for the life of them to make sense of what they were seeing and hearing, but none of it seemed at all sensible. Just think: first they were told not to be afraid, which was probably quite a challenge in itself. Then they received the message that Messiah had come, the hope that their people had been longing for for generations arriving here and now. And then they heard that Messiah was a baby, wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a feeding trough.
It must have been all just a little too much to take in, even if it did happen in the middle of the night.
But Luke’s story tells us that they could barely contain themselves. They put the sheep back into their pens, washed up after a long night of work and hurried over to Bethlehem to find Messiah.
But don’t forget what happened before they responded to the angels’ message. Remember? They heard a song.
It must have been a good song, too, like the powerful soundtrack of a movie that takes the story in front of you and plants it deep in your heart, because it took those shepherds all the way from mind-numbing fear to purpose-filled hope. Luke says it was a whole multitude of angels, filling the night sky, singing a song of pure joy loud enough to change those shepherds’ lives.
One of the best parts of my job is hearing your stories of faith—tales of how it is you and I stumble across grace and hope and courage . . . and God . . . in the middle of our everyday lives. One thing all of our stories have in common is that there is one thing—a person, a book, an experience, a song, even, that awakens our longing for God and takes us from the normal routine of human living to a whole new relationship with the creator of the universe.
On this holy day, may you hear a song . . . or feel a touch or read a word or even see an angel—whatever it takes, just enough for you to pick up your heart and go to find Messiah, hope and promise and peace.