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Focus Scripture: Luke 2: 8 – 17

Last week we looked at the Hope of the Magi as their pilgrimage led them to follow the light to the Christ Child, baby Jesus. This week we look at the love of the Shepherds and their inspirational pilgrimage.

Just to be a shepherd would exemplify God’s love. It is a sacrificial love that is exhibited in the care of another. In John 10: 11, Jesus identifies with this occupation when He declares, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.” (NLT)

The journey of our pilgrims this week is inspired by an encounter with angels and the heavenly host. It is an encounter that transforms them from ordinary shepherds to intrepid (fearless) shepherds and evangelists. I love the fact that the first words out of the mouth of the angel are, “Fear not.” Isn’t that the first thing we do when we encounter the extraordinary? Fear? Why is that? Fear not. God’s plan is bigger and better and more extraordinary than our plan.

For many people, hindsight is 20/20; but, like Lot’s wife, spending a moment looking back can have disastrous results. Some folks get hung up on the notion that we don’t have ‘spectacular visits’ by angels today. They have forgotten the charge by the writer of Hebrews, “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” (Hebrews 13: 2, NLT) Isn’t that what it means to be a shepherd? To show true hospitality. To obey. To lay down your life for someone else. To endure all manner of weather in order to protect and care. To simply spend time with those in need. To feed. To water. Maybe just chat with your sheep in the corral through the gate? (Matthew 25: 31 – 46 and John 10: 9)

The shepherds were chosen to receive this angelic visit because God knew their heart. Don’t forget that it had been roughly 400 years since there had been a word from God. The shepherds, as outcasts, were a type of microcosm of Israel after the exodus. Can you imagine what that event might have been like? Maybe it’s fanciful, but I imagine that the brilliance of this visitation may have seemed like a star. Consequently, our hope actually has its foundation and origin in love. A love born of and for the purpose of grace.

In our additional scriptures this week are some examples of shepherds from the Old Testament. Have you ever pondered … aside from Jesus referenced as the good or great shepherd, this is the only account of ‘specific’ shepherds in the New Testament. Why do you suppose that is? Isn’t it interesting, the shepherds of Bethlehem (the City of Bread) would share the Good News of the ‘Great Shepherd’ and the ‘Bread of Life’ who was found lying in a feeding trough (manger)?

How may we share our testimony of God’s work in our lives this week?

In Christ's Name -

Amen.

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