Advent. Day 6: The Shepherd with the Staff

Advent. Day 6: The Shepherd with the Staff

Opening Prayer. We glorify you, Jesus. You are the one who sees us and knows us. When our days are long and hard, and our hearts are lonely and weary, you show up. You meet us and you remind us that you are here! You lift our heavy hearts. You show us great care and compassion. You give us reason to hope. You restore our souls. You care for us as sheepherders care for their sheep. Your Spirit empowers us to believe that you are for us, you are with us, and you love us. Thank you, Jesus.  Amen.

Scripture. Luke 2:8-18 from The Message.

An Event for Everyone

8-12 There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”

13-14 At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please God.

15-18 As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

The Shepherd- Laura VanderTop

Recently, I was talking and crying to God about my past. I was angry, sad, hurt, scared, and lonely. I had not been seen, valued, honored, respected, or loved like I needed. I didn’t know if I ever would be. I was weary and heartbroken. I was crying out because I wanted a witness to my life. An encourager. A comforter. A companion.

I picture the shepherd a bit like this. Working so hard to keep the sheep. Taking such good care of them. Keeping them safe. Providing what they need. Concerned for their well-being. Sacrificing much on their behalf. Worthy, valuable, necessary, and skilled work. But it seems to be a lonely life. There isn’t anybody who really sees you, knows you, cares for you, nor is with you. Perhaps the shepherd leaned a bit heavy on his staff as the night settled in, already worn out and wondering if any of it really matteredIt could be that he worried that it would always be this way. (Maybe the sheepherders were there for each other, but this isn’t how I picture it.)

After sobbing and grieving for awhile and as I was waiting to fall sleep, my heart began to lift as I “remembered.” It was kind of like a hallelujah chorus as my mind and body were bolstered. Like what happened to the shepherd, Jesus had arrived in my life (quite a few years ago) and I had seen/experienced him. And Jesus had never left me. I was not alone, unseen, nor unloved. In that moment there were actually so many encounters, so personal and so powerful, that were coming to mind. I was blown away by God’s greatness.

I couldn’t help but be grateful and joyful as Jesus reminded me that he sees me, values me, honors me, loves me, encourages me, comforts me. I started singing songs of God’s goodness that suddenly popped in my head.  I encountered the peaceful, loving presence of Jesus with me right there. If it hadn’t been so late, I would’ve called my friend and shared all of this with her. Instead, I will tell her when we get together. I will talk fast and with passion. I will laugh at myself for getting so worked up. She will be grateful and impressed with Jesus. We have been so awe-struck as we encourage each other by sharing regularly how we are encountering Jesus. Every time we do, I am so amazed by the goodness and love of God towards us. God is good. Alleluia!

Questions for Consideration.

  • When have you needed Jesus to encounter you?
  • What happens to you when he does?
  • How do you share your experiences of Jesus?

Closing Prayer – A Hymn of Benediction. 

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King!
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.”
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’ angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem.”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King!

Christ, by highest heaven adored:
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of the favoured one.
Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see;
Hail, th’incarnate Deity:
Pleased, as man, with us to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King!

Hail! the heaven-born
Prince of peace!
Hail! the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that we no more may die:
Born to raise the one of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King!”


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