Tag Archive for: Shepherds

Day 15. Shepherds.

“Shepherds” is the first part of a trilogy by Kathleen Heppell, telling an embellished tale of how lowly shepherds, on receiving the news of Jesus’s birth by an angel, visit the stable to worship. Remaining joyful despite skepticism, they spread this divine news.

Advent Day 23

The Presence of Mystery

By Beth Griffith
Selah Companion

Today, I hiked to a mountain peak that I would usually reserve for one of those Washington “bluebird days” so as not to miss the 360 degree mountain peak view. In spite of a forecast of “party sunny,” I gave in to the nudge to make the climb. Once at the top, the sun and peaks were shrouded in clouds and mist.

As the wind shifted the clouds and mist, inviting the peaks into a game of peek-a-boo, I was drawn to the Presence of Mystery. Rather than feeling disappointed that there were no stellar views, I found myself settling deep within me, knowing that behind the clouds, there was “More.” I found both comfort and excitement in this. And hope.

This strikes me as the way of God sometimes. Maybe even much of the time. Quite often, we can only see what is right in front of us, even though we know (or at least hope) that there is more to unfold.

I wonder if this is what the Magi and Shepherds felt as they looked upon the baby Jesus. 

Did they sense the Presence of Mystery? Did they know deep within that there was “More” than could be seen in this baby lying in a manger? Surely, they must have. After all, they made their own long journeys to see this baby.

And then Mary, we read, “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) She, too, seemed to have a knowing that there was “More” to this baby in her arms than she could see.

Where do you experience the Presence of Mystery? Where are you drawn to wonder and the knowing that there is “More” than what you see at first look? Where are you being invited into that first step, knowing that there is more to unfold, hidden in the mysterious ways of God? What does this stir in you? Perhaps excitement? Or maybe fear? Or does it settle you deep within? 

I WONDER

IF THIS IS

WHAT THE

MAGI AND

SHEPHERDS

FELT AS

THEY LOOKED

UPON THE

BABY JESUS?

Photos by Beth Griffith

Advent Day 21

Caleb, the Shepherd

By Zoanna Pearson
Selah Companion

It was an ordinary star-filled night. Jesse, Levi, and me, Caleb, three poor shepherds, were minding our own business keeping our flock safe from wolves. We were sitting around the campfire listening to Jesse play his flute, Levi was dozing, and it was my watch. I was lulled between the music, the warm fire, and a cup of hot wine. We were wrapped in sheepskins and huddled close to the fire because the night was cold.

Suddenly, the sky became as light as day. No, that’s wrong, it was the brightest light I had ever seen; a thousand full moons would be dim in comparison. Startled, we jumped up, tripping over each other. What was happening, was the world ending? (We were later to discover that our world was beginning.)

The sky was filled with…you won’t believe this, but the sky was filled with angels. You might wonder how I knew they were angels; it’s not like I’ve seen one before. 

I am telling you that these beings were bright and shimmered with gold and silver, they had wings and flowing gowns. Some played what looked like golden horns and sang, “Hallelujah, Glory to God, Praise the Majestic Creator, Gloria.” 

What else could they be but angels? It was loud but joyful, like a heavenly party! Their light and voices fell on us like warm fog, and we were transfixed. Oh, how I wish you could have been there. We stood in wonder, our mouths open, holding on to each other. I confess we were scared to death.

Without taking my eyes off what I saw, I whispered to Jesse and Levi, “Do you see what I see?” They both nodded but couldn’t speak.

Then an angel stood before us and told us to go immediately into town and find a stable with a baby in a manger. The angel said that the baby was Christ, the Lord and that we had been chosen by Yahweh to be the first to see this child. Chosen! While I am telling you this, it sounds crazy and unbelievable. See the Lord? We stood dropped-jaw, I mean, who would argue with an angel?

We ran over the hills into town without a backward glance and trusting that the flock would be safe. We raced around town, checking stable after stable. 

And then, near an inn, it was just as we were told. This stable was filled with a light as if all the candles in the synagog were lit, and the light fell upon us. In the manger wrapped in a soft cloth lay a baby, not just a baby, but the most beautiful, radiant child I’d ever seen. His parents called him Jesus. We didn’t know if we should close our eyes or gaze at him. The three of us fell on our knees in awe and worship.

I, Caleb, a shepherd boy,
was looking on the
the face of the Messiah!

I realized that just being in the presence of this child was changing me. I am not ashamed to say that tears ran down my face, I sobbed prayers of praise, and words I’d never spoken before left my lips. I, Caleb, a shepherd boy, was looking at the face of the Messiah! I was in the presence of the Holy One. 

We wanted to stay forever, but we were concerned about the sheep. As you would imagine, all night and nights forever after, the three of us told and retold this story, each time remembering what could not be explained. We would always wonder, why us? We were three young boys, shepherds, outcasts, despised by many. We told our story to others, some believed us, and others thought we had been out in the fields too long.

As I tell this story to Ari, the scribe, I wish I could say that I went on to learn Hebrew and become a scholar and a teacher. But I knew in my heart that because I had met my Messiah, my job was to be the best shepherd I could be. I was called to tell my story that once on an ordinary, star-filled night in a field near Bethlehem, I, Caleb, a shepherd, looked at the face of Jesus and was transformed.

—Caleb, the shepherd
as told Ari Israel, the scribe

Advent Day 12

Shepherds

By Kathleen Heppell,
Selah Companion

While we prepare for sleep and night watch of our sheep, the fire warms us. Sky cloudless, black, yet bright with stars… We whisper… how such beauty takes our breath away.

A blinding light. Bright as day. Stunned. Paralyzed. Will we die? “Fear not.” we hear, shaking as we fall on our faces, our arms covering our heads. These words… we try to make sense of what we hear and have seen. 

Lifting our heads, we see an angel announcing Rejoice! Rejoice! The Messiah is born this night in Bethlehem, as scripture foretold. Wrapped snugly in clothes, lying in a manger.

Our Savior lying in a manger?

The sky becomes brighter as the heavenly host sings, filling us with joy as we have never known. We hear Glory to God in the highest heaven and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.

And then they are gone, leaving us with baaing sheep, our fire, and one another. 

How is it that He chose us,

lowly shepherds,

to hear and see

the good news?

We must see our Savior. No one wants to be left behind, yet our sheep must be protected. We don’t argue in our usual ways; a hush among us as we decide who will go into Bethlehem. The fastest run toward the sleeping town to the stable at the inn guided with a knowing in our hearts. 

We stop in front of the opening. Panting, we gather ourselves. How to enter this place with the promised Savior within? This smelly stable is Holy. Our overflowing joy gives unfamiliar confidence. We enter in silence. Oldest to youngest, our torches held high.

There he is, a baby lying in a manger, wrapped in snug clothes. Nearby his parents sit up, rubbing their eyes, questions on their faces. “The angel of the Lord told us our Savior, the Messiah, was born this night. We have come to worship.”

They nod in understanding, with curiosity and awe on their faces. We fall to our knees. Foreheads to the ground, we praise the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, Adonai, and in our midst, Immanuel, just as was promised.

We know within our depths…

at the right time…

this baby will grow up to

lead us and redeem us.

Strange… the smells of animals would be incensed to our God. Somehow we know our presence, the offering of our hearts and voices, is pleasing to the Lord Most High.

We excitedly share more of our story with Mary and Joseph. Tired as they are, they, too, praise our God, who keeps His promises. We leave as dawn begins to kiss the earth. Travelers and shopkeepers on the road look at us as worse than the dirt they walk on. They hear us praising God to the highest heaven; we don’t care who we awaken.

Shrinking back from the stench of our clothes, they cannot miss the glory shining, like Moses, upon our countenance when they look at our faces. “Our Savior is born this day in the stable just down the road. The angel of the Lord told us; the heavenly host sang praises. It was the darkest night yet shone brighter than the noonday sun!”

Trying to take in what we are saying, they can see our joy. Some shake their heads, “Shepherds! The heavenly host coming to them? The Savior of the world born in a stable? How can that be?”

We tell them, see for yourselves, providing directions… While some seem curious, most keep shaking their heads. They don’t seem to want to see for themselves.

Yet nothing dampens our overflowing joy. Returning to our flocks, we tell everyone.

As we watch over our sheep, we ponder within ourselves and to one another how is it that He chose us, lowly shepherds, to hear and see this good news. How did He choose this young couple, peasants, to be His parents? How is it that the Messiah was born in a stable? And we ask, when will He deliver His people? 

We know within our depths… at the right time… this baby will grow up to lead us and redeem us.