Imagine a band of people, caring for their sheep. The women in the tents with the children, the men, in shifts, taking care of the animals. The land is not very fertile at this time of year; the land is also occupied by foreign armies and there is a great deal of unrest and violence. This is the setting for Luke’s narrative of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2).
In a world of turmoil, wars and people being forced to move across desert lands and oceans, it is not so difficult to imagine the life of these shepherds. We have seen images of such people in the media, we have seen their homes, the pastures, the land destroyed by violence and persecution.
Yet into such a world Luke the Evangelist describes the change in the landscape – The shepherds who were regarded as inadmissible witnesses in the courts of law, were chosen to be the first persons to receive the news of the birth of the saviour, and having believed such message, they turned out to be the first heralds of this gospel. “The glory of the Lord shone around them” (2:9) and the angel announces the birth of a baby. The announcement is followed by a heavenly choir, the likes of which will someday be echoed in God’s heavenly city.
The shepherds respond to the surprise they’ve seen by going… they leave their flocks and go to see baby in an act of obedience that reminds us of the calling of the disciples – come and follow me, Jesus says.
It is our prayer in the WEA that together with all Christians worldwide, we will hear this call anew this Christmas season and that we will respond as did the shepherds. We want to follow Jesus more closely, to be signs of empowerment of the disadvantaged, signs of peace amidst wars, signs of hope for the hopeless, serving even in a barren land because we know God’s glory has shone and will continue to do so through the work and service of His people.
May this be a blessed Christmas for you, your family and your community!