Will We Listen

By Marcy Barthelette

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. Luke 2:16 NLT

Yes, the day had come! The baby was there, just as the angel had said. He was a tiny, wrinkled newborn, resting in an animal feed trough after his very human journey into our world. He was totally dependent on a young girl who stepped out in faith without a clue what her future held and a man who had nothing to do with this Immaculate Conception but willingly accepted the role of father. Despite the baby’s humanness, the shepherds knew He was something very special and they knelt in worship. The promise of the angel laid before their very eyes. After they had seen the child, the lowly shepherds shared their excitement with everyone in town. They were not at all shy in their retelling of the unbelievable story.

Seeing was believing. They (the shepherds) told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. Luke 2:17

It is now the day after and Bethlehem is awakening. Street vendors are setting up their portable shops, innkeepers are preparing food for the huge numbers of travelers, children are racing through the streets doing whatever children do and the shepherds are stopping everyone who will listen and tell them about the bright light in the sky, the angel who spoke to them, and the tiny Savior they had visited during the night who could bring peace to everyone who would believe. How do you suppose the people of the town reacted? These nasty, smelly men were actually tapping them on the shoulder and, as if that weren’t enough, they wanted them to believe a fantasy. A few may have wanted to believe or, at best, they offered a Good Morning. But most very likely pulled away and crossed over to the other side of the street.

“God had entered the world as a baby. Meanwhile, the city hummed….they were all too busy to consider the possibility.”

Max Lucado, God Came Near

Presumably, the shepherds headed back to their flocks. After all, there were chores to be done. But how were their lives changed as they returned to their mundane existence? Did the sky seem a little bluer, the stars a little brighter, a cool drink more refreshing? We don’t know what their lives were like bec ause we never read about them again. Nor do we hear about Joseph except at the circumcision and the incident when Jesus was lost from his parents, then found teaching in the temple. Their entire story is told in fifty-one verses in the second chapter of Luke. The other Apostles share even less.

Mary continues to be a part of Jesus’ life all the way to his crucifixion but she doesn’t share her emotions concerning the pregnancy or delivery, even the journey to Bethlehem. We are told only that she treasured them.

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. Luke 2:19 MSG

Though we are left to imagine the details of Jesus’ birth, the message of the Savior is clear. He came once to live among us, feel our emotions, to let us know that He understands us even when we don’t understand ourselves, but He will come again. And when He does, it will not be as a baby or even just a man. He will come as King and He will take His followers home to their eternity. As we celebrate Advent, we not only prepare for His first coming. We also anticipate the second time he will come to earth. We don’t know when it will happen, but it will come. The question is, will we be prepared? We won’t need to worry about shopping for gifts or planning a big feast. We won’t need to fret over that office party or taking the kids to see Santa. We won’t even need to pack our bags for the trip. Everything we need will be waiting for us at the journey’s end.

So, what will we do in the days following this Christmas? Will we listen to the grubby “shepherd” on the street? Will we feed the hungry and care for the sick? Will we remember what really matters?

Lord, keep us watching and waiting for you. Give us the “shepherd spirit” today to go quickly to Bethlehem and then to tell the world that Christ has come. Ray Pritchard, Faces Around the Manger

One more chapter remains in this story of Christmas. It is a tale of wise men traveling the desert in search of a star. Join me next week as we take a look at why we celebrate Epiphany….

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