Advent Thoughts

Wednesday, December 22
Luke 2:15

Luke is again spare with his words, leaving the scene to our imagination, perhaps encouraging us to fill in the blanks. When the angels left them… My questions: Were the sheep (or the flocks’ predators) aware of the angels? After rising from crouching fear, did the shepherds gaze into the sky as the disciples would more than thirty years later? Shepherds are entrusted with the sheep in their care. Who protected the flock when their protectors went to Bethlehem?

Many students of Hebrew history and prophecies, especially the words in Micah, believe that these shepherds were specially chosen to watch over lambs that would ultimately be offered as temple sacrifices with their fields about one mile from Bethlehem. Trained according to rabbinical rules, the shepherds had small stalls to protect and raise raise these lambs to be without blemish.

Earlier I wrote that Luke determined to record an orderly account…carefully investigating everything from the beginning. Many speculate that details of the birth narrative–from the Elizabeth/Zechariah events through the birth of Jesus to the visit of the wise men to Jesus in the Temple at age twelve–came from the lips of Mary herself. Did Luke also find one of those shepherds who “lived to tell the tale”? How fascinating must have been that conversation.

Nothing and no one is left to chance in the birth story. Nothing and no one is left to chance in our stories. The promises in Psalm 139 have always been important to me: Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? …if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast…

The angels left the shepherds, but the Spirit of the always-guiding One would forever be present. Remember that this week when you wonder where he is. Reach out for his hand even when you can’t see it.

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