Opening Prayer. Oh God, our Good Shepherd, hold us close and enable us to live here on earth as you lived and served among us. Amen.
Scripture. Luke 2:13-15.
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
Everybody Wants to Be a Sheep! From Jane Steinke.
Who wouldn’t want to be a sheep? You’re always warm, you get to eat grass all day, hang out with your sheep friends, and you get protection from danger. Sounds like a good life…especially if you get invited to Jesus’ birth!
Sheep represent vulnerable human beings who need the guidance, care and protection of Christ, the Good Shepherd. The “Lamb of God” symbolizes the sacrifice that Christ made for humankind, since it was a Jewish custom to sacrifice lambs. The lamb also reflects Christ’s innocence and the white fleece his purity.
Did you know that sheep are mentioned over 500 times in the Bible? Which is way more than any other animal. There are two reasons why theologians think sheep are brought up so many times. The first reason is because sheep were an everyday part of the nomads and Hebrews agricultural life. The second reason is sheep are used throughout the Bible to symbolically refer to God’s people.
During biblical times, shepherds were seen as low and unimportant people. Who would have thought that God would choose shepherds and their sheep to spread the news about his Son’s birth? This is so important because not only does ONE angel appear to the shepherds and sheep, but a WHOLE choir of angels appear! This is only the second time a WHOLE choir of angels appear, so clearly it’s an important message.
Some people believe that God chose the shepherds because they leave the comfort of their human homes, where they naturally belong, to be with the sheep out in the natural environment. Shepherds lay aside the rights and dignity that go along with their human identity to live among the sheep/animals. This connects with how Jesus lived a human life on earth with us, instead of living up in heaven with God. Jesus is the shepherd who lives among us (a.k.a. – the sheep).
If ever a situation occurs unplanned, the knowledge that Jesus is there to help us during these times of struggle is imperative to remember. We may start questioning why this situation happened, but by recognizing that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is there to protect and support us forever.
“When it rains where the sheep are, the shepherds get wet” (Miller, 2015). This is a good reminder that Jesus also experienced pain, hunger, suffering and worries. When we are struggling, Jesus feels and understands those struggles after living among us (the sheep!).
Questions for Consideration.
Closing Prayer. Dear God, thank you for sending your Son to live amongst us that we might know that he is the Good Shepherd and will guide and protect us. Let this Christmas season be a reminder to us that Jesus knows and acknowledges what we go through. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who will always protect his sheep. AMEN.