For the Twelve Days of Christmas this year, our devotions focus on several characters of the Christmas story. Today, we look at the shepherds.
Prayer: You come to us often when we least expect it. But, what we forget is that you are always there. May we recognize you and announce to others the wondrous works of your hands, dear God. Amen.
Reading: Psalm 148 (Click to read text)
Stop and GROW: After reading the text, discuss/ponder the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Book of Faith questions, which are part of Camp Mount Luther's GROW Time with campers.
QUESTION 1: What scares, confuses, challenges, or doesn’t make sense to me in this text?
QUESTION 2: What delights me in this text or is my favorite part of the story?
QUESTION 3: What stories or memories does this text stir in me?
QUESTION 4: What is God up to in this text?
Reflection: When I was in high school, I was selected to participate in the Pennsylvania All-State Choir. It was an honor to compete through the local, district, and regional rounds, ultimately making it to the state competition held in Hershey that year. I didn’t make it any further, but remember being in awe when we arrived at Founder’s Hall, the site of our concert. It was beautiful. Even the bathrooms were done in marble. I remember having a “wow” moment.
The shepherds had a similar experience, I’m sure, when the angels appeared to them in the fields. They were just minding their business when out of nowhere, a heavenly chorus announced a birth. And it wasn’t just any birth. The Messiah was here.
Imagine running towards town. I wonder what thoughts must have been doing through the shepherds’ heads. We don’t know how many there were. Maybe it was like a stampede, everyone trying to get there first. Maybe they went with “unpanicked quickness” as I tell my staff to move when there is an emergency situation at camp.
“There’s Jesus,” may have been the cries when they got to the manger. I bet there was a radiance around the babe that they had never seen before. I’m sure they stood in awe, just like I did in the middle of a magnificent building when I was at states.
Our Psalm today reminded me of a song we sang at All-State Choir. The song, by John Ness Beck, quoted a portion of this Psalm. When I read it preparing to write this devotion, I thought of the shepherds. What was their song of praise as they left the humble cattle stall. Did they “Go Tell It on the Mountain” over the fields and everyone? Did they announce to others the wondrous works of their Creator? I bet they did. How will you be a like those shepherds, having witnessed once again the coming of the Christ child? What will be your canticle of praise?
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