Shepherds and The Great Outdoors
I was in the Palo Dura Canyon near Amarillo. Our horses were in the corral and I was in my sleeping bag on the floor of the canyon. A couple of friends and two of my sons were lying on the ground close by. No electricity. No city lights. Like densely packed white Christmas lights, the stars tried to ignite the night. We were waiting for the grand entrance of the Milky Way. Lights above. Darkness below. At two in the morning I would have jumped out of my skin if suddenly a majestic, radiating, supernatural being appeared. This is what happened to the shepherds out in the open fields guarding their flocks.
“In the same region there were shepherds living outdoors guarding their flocks by night. An angel of the Lord stood near them and the Lord’s glory shone around them. Intense fear gripped them. Then the angel said, ‘Don’t be afraid. Instead, consider this. I announce good news to you. This is a message that brings great joy, for today in the City of David a Savior has been born for you. He is the Messiah, the Lord. Here is the sign that will enable you to identify Him. You will find the baby wrapped up and lying down in a manger.” - Luke 2:8-12
Augustus was in Rome, Quirinius was in Damascus, and Herod was in Jerusalem. None of these powerful world rulers heard a peep from heaven. Why? Because Luke has made it clear in his Christmas Story that it’s only the humble who will kneel before this ultimate Savior King (1:48). In the end, the proud and mighty get thrown off their thrones (1:51-52), but in His first coming the Savior came as a baby—a baby who could be gently placed in a feed trough. The hard working shepherds, working the night shift, with the smell of sheep and the outdoors on their clothes got the message. Augustus, Quirinius, and Herod did not.
Mary and I have spent the majority of our ministry teaching ranchers and farmers, the audience FarmersOnly.com tries to target. We have found that their connectedness to the outdoors and their humble dependence upon God for rain has often given them receptive hearts to God. But whether we are city folk or country folk, Luke tells all that we need to relinquish our power positions so that we can humbly come and worship before the Savior lying in a manger.
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