Friday, December 14, 2012

25 Days of Christmas Presence—Day 14

The angels went to the shepherds--an unlikely crew based in the hills on the outskirts of Bethlehem. These shepherds were isolated and hidden from the mainstream traffic. Their occupation was a little less than savory, but necessary because of the sacrifices at the temple. And although they were necessary they still were held in disdain.

The angels came with a proclamation! Today, today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you! This public and official announcement was not told first to Herod or the High Priest. It was not posted and announced in the courts of the temple of Jerusalem. It was not heralded from the walls surrounding the great city.

God’s presence among his people, His Immanuel appearance, was proclaimed by the heavenly host to people caring for sheep.

They were leathered, worn and sturdy people. People who got their tunics and hands dirty. A demographic calloused to the elements and exposed to the dangers. People living a mundane, everyday existence.

The angel’s words were that God’s good news is for ALL people. All. Such inclusivity. Such an encompassing. And the shepherds marveled—they were included in this all. The fact that the proclamation was coming first hand to them was astounding. And they wasted no time. They set out on the beaten path that led to Bethlehem.

The night sky would have been bright to light their way, but their feet would have remembered the path. Too many times had they traipsed back and forth carrying lambs on their shoulders and leading sheep with their staffs. They would have brought no sheep that night. Someone would have volunteered or been chosen by the casting of lots to stay behind and guard the flocks.

And all the while as they put one dusty foot in front of the other, dodging upturned rocks and ruts in the path, they would have been mulling and discussing this proclamation.

A baby born and lying in a manger. Shepherds would have known birthing. And they were quite familiar with mangers. But this baby, the angels declared, was to be the Savior. The long awaited and anointed one. And that, that news, was beyond them. But their curiosity and hunger moved them forward.

And they arrived. And they left.

But the shepherds left far different than when they came. As the dark of night gave way to the early dawn they stopped everyone on the path. On that beaten way, back to their daily existence, they went out spreading the word of what and who they had seen and heard. And everyone they told went a different direction carrying with them this good news.

And so down through the millenniums and centuries this good news has come. Through countless ages these blessed shepherds’ accounts have reached too many to count.

But I can be counted. I am one of them. Their good news of great joy came to me. In the midst of my darkness, at the core of my blindness, God came and made a proclamation to me.

To me.

He said, I have good news of great joy for you, Tamera. Because I love you and you are precious to me I will not leave you where you are. I will not leave you as you are.

When this proclamation came to me I was living out in the darkness in an isolated place. I dwelled there. But even then I was being what God intended for me to be. I was taking care of people. The hurt, the lonely, the tired, the frustrated. Why? Because I was one of them.

I still am.

All my young life I wondered what and who I was. I have embraced many things, many titles. I have worn several hats.

But God has called me to be a shepherd. He has asked me to take care of and feed his sheep. He has asked me to proclaim the good news to the hurting, the frustrated, the excluded, the weary, the lonely and the afraid.

So, today I am proclaiming to you the good news! And I shout it with great joy.

You and I are included in the ALL PEOPLE of the angel’s proclamation.

The proclamation is for us.

And because of this proclamation we can enter into God’s presence.

Heavenly Father, you came to the shepherds—the common, everyday people of the world, and you told them the good news first. You opened up the night sky and sent a host of angels to proclaim that this was the year of your favor—the moment of the world getting to see your face. Your Presence was declared to people just like us. Let us, in turn, be like the shepherds. Enable us to be bold and audacious in our own telling. Give us courage to proclaim that you have changed us. In this good news you have redefined us. This is the year of your favor to us. Let it shine on us. Bring us out of our darkness and into our callings. You have called me to shepherd your people. Help me, God, to live into and out of my calling.

Daily Activity: What proclamation is God making to you? Today what good news is he trying to covey to you? What darkness is he calling you out of into his light? Listen. Listen closely.

What proclamation does he want you to take to others? One of forgiveness? One of inclusion? One of exhortation? Of encouragement? What good news does he want you to share?

Do it. Please, just do it.

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