GNB 187

December 29, 2022 (The Fourth Day toward Epiphany)


“The shepherds returned to their fields glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen just as they had been revealed to them.” (Luke 2.20)


I have to believe that when the shepherds returned to the fields to take up their respective stations, they did so as much different men. These men were possibly husbands, fathers, friends and co-workers. They were also descendants of Abraham as well as from the line of David in Bethlehem. David was a shepherd in the field as well. He was trusted by his father to watch over the flocks while his brothers went off to war to fight the enemies of Israel alongside King Saul. When his brothers went off to war, his attitude determined his altitude. No, I do not mean he walked around with his head in the clouds with pride. Nor was it buried under the sand with dread. His attitude was one of serious business. It was no easy task to watch a flock of sheep as a man much less as a boy and the youngest of all his brothers. Yet, David put his faith and trust in God to not only confront the challenges but overcome them. Just because he was the youngest, perhaps the smallest, of all the brothers did not mean he was the least of them. He did not, however, determine to be the greatest of them. We do not hear of David having prophetic dreams like his ancestor Joseph. Remember, Joseph’s brothers responded negatively to the dreams of the “younger ruling over the older.” Because of their fear and jealousy (their lack of faith and wisdom actually) they sold their brother into slavery and brought sorrow to their father’s heart with news of his death to cover up what they had down. Their attitude determined their altitude. They were eventually the beneficiaries of Joseph’s faithfulness and trust in God to provide. But, David did not seek such a position of power via a dream. He was not bolstered nor encouraged by divine visions. Instead, David performed the duties and tasks entrusted to him by his father believing it was his duty to God to do so. And when the time came, God moved in mighty ways through David so that his will for deliverance would be done. It did not change him to be something that he was not. When Samuel came to Bethlehem, he inquired where he might find Jesse and his sons. His task was to seek the chosen one who would be Israel’s king among kings. When God revealed that David was the one, there was surprise but no hesitation. Jesse and David’s brothers were witnesses of the event which would one day elevate David above the rest. Yet, not only do we not see a change in David’s demeanor we also do not see a change in Jesse nor his brothers. It is almost as if they acted in a way that dismissed what had happened in Bethlehem that day. Perhaps, as we looked at the shepherds and others in telling the story of the birth of Jesus in yesterday’s reflection, there was a sense of foreboding. No one mentioned the shepherds being in town with a fantastic story of a baby in a manger being born as “one who would take away the sins of the world.” In the days of David’s anointing no one shared the event perhaps thinking “what would King Saul say if he knew David had been anointed king?” For whatever reason, the timing was not yet right but the truth was no less the truth. God had a plan to save Israel from itself and thus bring the truth of God’s mercy, justice and love to bear in the world.

So, what can we learn from the shepherds in the fields that day. It happened in just a matter of hours that the angels appeared, the shepherds went to the manger and then returned to the fields. Do we dare think they believed “well, that was nice but let’s get back to the real world”? I believe those precious hours changed and challenged the shepherds to be more than just the hirelings of the sheep’s owner. Truth be told, those sheep belonged to God. Yes, all the sheep belonged to God because He created them in the first place. But, these sheep were most likely the flock designated for use in the temple sacrifices. They really did belong to God as they would be offered back to Him for the purposes of salvation for the nation and people of Israel. The shepherds, I believe, would have felt revitalized and essentially anointed by the spirit of God to do more than check boxes on the “did my job today” list. They looked at each other differently. They saw the sheep and the lambs differently. They saw their future differently. Bottomline, they had to see God differently. He was indeed “with them and within them.” Their walk and their talk were synergized by the revelation of “the truth that would set them free.” What should that say about us as those to whom the truth of Jesus as the Christ, God’s anointed to be King of kings and Lord of lords, has been revealed. Dare we go on with “life as normal” when there is now nothing normal, in the scope of worldly thinking, about us? We are given the privilege of not only “seeing the Christ” but becoming joint heirs in the Kingdom of God on earth as we will be in heaven. The story we tell is not merely about Jesus being born but about us being reborn as those who have walked in the midst of heaven while on earth. With this attitude, our altitude of achievement and accomplishment ought to rise…rise up to glorify the God who has made it possible. What matters is that we believe it, conceive it, receive it and allow the change wrought in us to be shared in our words and actions with others so they may come, see and believe then return home to do life differently and better for the good of all and the glory of God.


Father, You can do all things as befits Your will and plan for creation and for our lives. You have shown us the truth. You have revealed the blessing of a changed life. You have given us a new purpose, a new heart and a right spirit in the gift of Jesus as our Christ, Savior and friend. Let our thankfulness be made known in our words and actions among the people whom we shall meet, greet and serve today in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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