Day 16. December 16, 2019
Nativity Companion: The Sheep
God of all love, might we come to know and trust your love more deeply this Advent Season Hold us in your rich love, oh divine shepherd. AMEN.
Luke 1:59-66 (NRSV).
59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. 60 But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” 61 They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” 62 Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. 63 He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. 66 All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.
Reflection (from Janet Hagberg).
When I received my nativity character this year I breathed a sigh of relief. The sheep. Or in my case, I prefer the lamb. I secretly did not want a character who had a job, like the innkeeper. Or one who had to travel a great distance and bring a gift, like a wise man. Or one who needed to bring a whole flock along to witness this miraculous birth, like a shepherd.
Although in general my life is rich and deep, I’ve had a wearying year. So much loss and impending loss. A young man I love dying of a brain tumor. An older friend in hospice. The dissolution of a group I loved. The losses and changes at Colonial. A friend’s mental illness crisis. Argh.
So this season I’m relieved to let myself be held in the arms of my divine loving shepherd when I am vulnerable, sad and tired. I am letting my shepherd carry me gently to the place of new birth and renewal, of hope and love, so I can slowly breathe freely again.
I imagine Mary and Joseph might have felt some of this same weariness and need for care even amidst their joy. Our own neighbors may be feeling something similar. It’s likely we all long for simple relief and care. We can be assured that our divine shepherd holds us in a love that will not let us go.
Questions for Consideration.
Oh divine shepherd, might we be willing to risk and trust ourselves to your loving arms. Carry us to places of renewal and new birth that we might breathe freely again and that we might live from the truth that we are always held in your arms of love. AMEN.