Opening Prayer. Lord, I give thanks during this season for all the ways You have shepherded me, guided me, guarded me. You have rejoiced and danced with angels during my times of great joy. You have knelt beside me comforting me with Your light and hope during my darkest, most fearful nights. I am eager to be cradled in Your arms as a tender sheep in the arms of a loving shepherd. Amen.
Scripture. Luke 2:8-11
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
A Shepherd Psalm- From Jim Fisher
On crisp, clear, star-filled nights like this
With the flock all nestled together like woolly pillows
We peer behind the stars searching for angels
Angels dancing as we strum our lyres
As we raise joyful voices to our Lord God
Who loves to hear us sing praises
Who loves to hear the thanksgivings of our hearts.
On this night the heavenly hosts
Heard our rejoicing
And threw a party
That guided us to a little babe
Borne of the faithful act of a young woman
Who said “yes” when God held out a hand
And asked her to dance.
Amidst the swirling whisper of skirts and wings
Amidst the joyous harmony of lutes and lyres
We knelt and worshiped.
We knelt beholding the Glory of the Lord
With skin on.
The angels then faded back into the sky from which they came
And we returned to our flocks
And the night fell silent once again.
And, behold, the entire world fell silent
For a time.
And now, so many years later on this night
This night is different.
There are no shepherds.
There is no party of angels.
The escalator from heaven to earth is switched off.
On this night, the Creator of the Universe
Is on the way down
Quietly down into the cradles of our praise-filled arms
Softly down into the manger of our hungry hearts
Down to snuggle into our souls
Bringing good news of great joy
On this night we shall call You
God … “for” us
God … “with” us
God … “within” us.
We shall call You … Emmanuel.
Reflection and Prayer.
Note: The reflections are in standard font and the prayer is in bold italics
God “for” us, we call you Father. You created us. You knit our DNA together, eagerly anticipating our joy as we discover who we were created to become.
Reflect on how you are discovering who God created you to be and envisioning your Creator cheering for you, eagerly anticipating each joyful moment of discovery.
God “with” us, we call you Jesus. Emmanuel. The Good Shepherd. The One who is alongside, always supporting, always guiding, protecting, forever present, always loving.
Reflect on how you are supported, guided, protected, loved. Imagine Christ holding your hand. Imagine Jesus clearing the way, setting you up for success, leading you into your calling.
God “within” us, we call you Spirit. We seek your voice. We seek your wisdom. We immerse ourselves in your love, breathing it into our souls and seeking your guidance and direction as we breathe your love back out to all those in need of your touch. As you shepherd us so we reach out to shepherd others.
Reflect on your not only being a mirror of God’s image as a shepherd, but also God desiring with all God’s heart to see God reflected in you as you reach out to shepherd others.
Lord, thank you for your anticipatory patience. When we are marching strong, you cheer for us. When we are weary, you carry us. When we are not moving, you lovingly wait, always anticipating our hearing your whispers urging us to get up and move toward and into our sacred future. Amen.