December 11th–The Shepherd w/ the Sheep
46 And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name. (Lk. 1:46-49)
Reflection (Dave Williamson):
Writing this, I am looking at the pictures of our eight grandchildren. There is one in particular of my granddaughter and I, from when she was four years old, walking a trail along the North Shore. These are my prized sheep. I know each of them by name, each of their histories, and I have hopes and dreams for each. My mission is to carry them, or at least point, to the manger in Bethlehem, so they can meet the Lamb of God.
What a precious task given to me as a shepherd, a grandfather, and follower of Jesus – to bring these now young adults to the manger and, more than observe, experience the infant lamb of God who dies to take away the sin of the world. A holy privilege and calling.
For years I have been a pastor. I served, alongside others, in two churches, working to connect sheep to the Lamb. In first century Palestine, shepherding was a low status career. But on the night of all nights, one shepherd became very important. In the picture of my Advent companion, I see a rough, rugged, yet gentle shepherd carefully carrying a sheep on a very special and surprising journey. What a privilege! The shepherd was going about his routine of “setting night watches” when “suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them.” Surprised! Terrified! And, the angel’s words– don’t be afraid! Good News, great joy, meant for everyone worldwide! A Savior is born! The Messiah! Go, look, and find the baby wrapped in a blanket, lying in a manger.
And that wasn’t it! Suddenly, an angelic choir appeared, praising God “in the heavenly heights”! They must’ve thought, “too good to be true”! But, after a while, they began to wander toward Bethlehem. And what they found was exactly what the angel said– a newborn baby wrapped in a blanket, lying in a manger.
As a pastor, I am grateful to be carrying a young sheep in my arms, to meet the newborn child– the Lamb who gave his life for the world. That is my role in God’s mission: to pastor these people, and to shepherd these sheep to the Lamb of God. While low in status, there is no greater privilege or responsibility, no greater joy, than responding to the good news by bringing sheep to meet the Lord. And there is no greater joy than discovering again the child who is the Lamb of God. Joy, Joy, Joy.
What leads you toward joy?
God of exultation, lead us in our years, our months, and our days, toward the joy that is your presence. In Jesus’ name, Amen.