Right about now is the time of year when many churches have a Christmas program happening, and so did we. It was an awesome team effort!
This year we did a different perspective on the Christmas story: from the shepherds’ point of view. Titled, “O What A Glorious Night,” we took some creative license and imagined one shepherd bumping into another, convincing them to journey to Bethlehem together. Something in looking at the brightness of the stars that night compelled them to think that there was a special promise amidst those particular nighttime sparkles.
Have you ever had that kind of experience? You’re watching the stars, thinking of how vast and extraordinary everything is, maybe thinking about wondrous it is that everything came to be the way it did. Then, amidst staring at an object in God’s creation that seems so small but is exactly quite magnificent, something hits you: an idea, a thought, a revelation, a truth, a verse, a word, whatever. Amidst opening your mind to contemplate an aspect of God’s glory, something changes. There’s a sweet simplicity to that.
I think something like this happened that night long ago. Probably not how we reimagined it in our Christmas program, but that night, while the shepherds were out beneath the starry sky, they were likely gazing at it at some point and thinking about something. I imagine they had a lot of time to think in their line of work – to contemplate God’s creation and wonder at it all.
Suddenly, they found themselves falling over each other at the appearance of angels announcing something glorious and unknown. I imagine these simple folks didn’t even have time to doubt what they were seeing; after all, the glory of it all was staring them in the face! How do you doubt a multitude of angels singing at in the middle of the night sky, in the middle of a field of sheep? I imagine you’d have to try very hard!
They – such simple folk – were given the announcement of all time! They were told that the Saviour was born! THE Saviour. They, so simple of people, were told of this. Shepherding was a job that was difficult and not glorious in the least, but they were the ones chosen to visit the Saviour that night and spread the word about this incredible event. Some theorize that part of this might be because shepherds were such plain, honest people, that it would be hard to doubt their story – after all, what reason would they have to lie about such a fantastical thing? I think I’d have to agree.
It reminds me of when a child is excitedly relaying something exciting that happened, and they find themselves bouncing up and down as their tones fluctuated along with their story. I imagine the shepherds were relaying their glorious tale somewhat similarly after seeing a baby – the Saviour – in a manger, just as the angels had told them. Sweet and simple, in their own way.
I imagine that, after comparing notes with Mary and Joseph and hearing their amazing side of the story, they couldn’t doubt anything at all. I imagine that it would bolster their resolve even further, and strengthen their passion so much so, that they would be telling this story until their dying breath. It would be absolutely unforgettable.
I believe that’s how we can live our lives too. Even though we may not have as grand an announcement as the shepherds did, we are constantly being given life-altering information. When we read His Word, when we hear a pastor speak, when we listen to a faith-filled song, when we hear wisdom and encouragement from a trusted friend, or receive love from our family – all of that is grand indeed and has the capacity to change our lives, making us ever more like Christ. When we encounter information we know to be pure and true, how can we not share it?
It is these thoughts that inspired me to write the poem that I did, for our Christmas program:
“The First Folktale”
Simple people given simple words;
These shepherds only kept care of bumbly herds.
But these were honest folk,
With soft spirits despite their rough cloaks.
I’m sure they hustled to town all ablaze,
Tripping over their words to lay praise.
They’d watched something beyond wonder,
Something they had no fear to blunder.
For when we behold such glory,
How can our hearts suppress such a story?
To do so would surely scratch at our souls;
Somehow, I think the shepherds knew well that toll.
I’m sure that some took in their tale
And suddenly all else paled.
Yet others likely heard it and shrugged,
The power of it bouncing off, their hearts plugged.
These, right here, are also simple words,
But what will we choose after having heard?
What will our simple hearts do,
After hearing such fabled truth?
Will they squeeze shut like eyes to bright light,
Or open like field flowers, set to soothe?
The shepherds made a choice,
To put all they were worth into using their voice,
And look how far it’s come, for such simple folk to rejoice.
And so I write to you, “What A Wonderful World!”
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!