8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
This passage, following right behind verses 6-7 perfectly captures the wondrous juxtapositions of Christmas to me.
In verses 6-7 we have the quietness of Jesus’ birth. God in human form enters earth with no witnesses except for whatever animals happened to be in the stable that night. Jesus, a squishy newborn!
But as earth unknowingly sleeps the heavens cannot hold back. The glory of this same God blazes around the shepherds and terrifies them. The skies fill with a huge angelic choir, singing with joy! The angels announce the long-awaited Master and Messiah has come! God has not abandoned his people but instead is doing more than they had ever hoped, but in a way none had ever expected. For the shepherds weren’t to go looking for this Master and Messiah in a beautiful, glorious place. Instead, they were to look for a baby, wrapped in a blanket, lying in a manger. The fulfilment of prophecy, the long awaited one had come. And yet again this incredible announcement was not made to leaders or kings. God didn’t awake the city to let them know. He came to shepherds, already awake and watchful on the night shift. He filled the sky with an angelic choir just for them.
God thank you that you work in mysterious ways. Keep us watchful and awake to you this Christmas, in the quiet and in the noisy joy!
Written by Rhiannon Mellor