HOPE for the Shepherds

Sunday began the Advent season. I love Advent. I grew up knowing a little about Advent, but it wasn’t until I was older, probably in college, that I began attending a church that really made a deal about Advent and a point to add it to the worship of Christmas. I love it. I love how it brings attention to different parts of the Christmas story.  I love how it causes us to think of the coming of Christ differently, in ways we may not always think. Being a pastor’s wife I get to be behind the scenes of Advent planning. This is our 7th Advent of our married life, all but 2 of those years my husband was a pastor. I continue to be amazed at how David brings new light to a story most of us have heard a bazillion times! This year he’s taking the themes of Advent–hope, peace, joy, love, Christ–and applying them to parts of the story that aren’t usually associated. For example, this week was hope and my husband used the shepherds with hope. Typically, joy is done with the shepherds. I quite enjoyed the sermon Sunday.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2: 8-14 ESV

Shepherds were the lowest of the low, the down-trodden, the outcasts of society. No one wanted to be a shepherd. It was a job you took because there was no other option. It was a job simply to survive, and shepherds barely survived. They were a hopeless bunch of men. They had no hope of climbing the social ladder, of bettering themselves, of furthering their education, or probably even living long lives. Not much hope, but who does God use to share the greatest Hope??? The shepherds! They are given the most brilliant of Christmas concerts and told to go into town, see the Christ child and then go share the hope He brings with everyone else. What an amazing job! And, to think, they just thought they were going to have another hum-drum night of guarding their sheep. As is typical, God does the unthinkable, uses the undesirable to do amazing things. I’m so glad we have a God who offers HOPE to the hopeless and doesn’t let us live lives without it. His hope sustains, his hope is all we need.

I pray you are able to find the HOPE that is offered this Christmas season through our Lord Jesus!

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