It started like any other workday. The sun was low in the sky as Seth departed for his evening shift. He enjoyed his work tending animals. Seth had pet names for many of them, and they knew his voice. The animals felt safe and secure under his care.
Seth gathered with his coworkers. It was a beautiful evening with the stars brightly shining as they walked in the fields, guarding their flocks of sheep. They caught up on the latest news while keeping a keen eye for any predators. However, what had been catching Seth’s eye for several weeks, was a particular star that seemed different than the others in the night sky. Tonight, it seemed especially bright.
The shepherds built a small fire to keep themselves warm. Just as they were about to settle down for a moment’s rest, they were suddenly startled. Where was the source of that singing? What was that brilliant light which pierced the darkness and hurt their eyes? Fear rose within their souls, and their bodies began to tremble. They perceived amazing beings in the sky above. Who were they?
We are all too familiar with this story. We have often seen images of angels. Consider what it must have been like for these shepherds. These beings were unlike any living creatures the shepherds had ever observed. Surely seeing these angels alone would have been a life-changing experience, but it was only a precursor to something even more marvelous.
These humble men were among a select group to first see the fulfillment of a prophecy for which the world was aching. God did the unexpected, and the lives of these lowly shepherds would never be the same. They would return home as changed men.
Am I ready for God to move in my life in such a dramatic way? Am I willing to experience such a divine moment—a moment that would so abruptly alter my life? Are you?
Even while I ponder these questions, I find that deep down, I do hope for unexpected moments with God this Advent Season, ones which will result in a profound change in my life.
If you, too, find this hope in you as Christmas approaches, then ask the Holy Spirit to help prepare your heart for the unexpected. Ask for the capacity to see with new eyes the familiar story we have heard so many times before.
Lord, we long for a new encounter with You this Advent, perhaps even one as significant as the encounter the shepherds had, causing unexpected changes in our lives.
Rev. Bob Ragan