Wednesday, December 12, 2012

While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks (Part 1)

And there were in the same country Shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night..."I bring you good tidings, of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord."

Have you ever considered the irony of the birth of the King of Kings being announced first to shepherds?

Not the rich and famous. Not the educated. Not even middle class shop keepers.

Shepherds. The lowly. The poor. Uneducated. Stinky, smelly, simple shepherds.

Why is this?

Maybe because our Lord even before His incarnation was known as a Shepherd. Maybe because Jesus Christ values shepherds, and shepherding work.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.

A shepherd gets tenderness. He loves, feeds, protects, and leads his sheep. Jesus is the Chief Shepherd of the flock. (1 Peter 5:4) He is the Great Shepherd. (Hebrews 13:20) He is the Good Shepherd...the one who gave His life for the Sheep. (John 10:10)

These shepherds were afraid at the angels sudden appearance. Probably had heart palpitations. But they took the message at face value, and immediately went and found this Savior-Baby-Shepherd.

Shepherds play a key role in any nativity scene. They feature in many Christmas carols. They have been on my heart.

Each believer has the responsibility to be a shepherd. There are figurative little sheep in your life that you have a responsibility toward. A responsibility to lead, feed, protect and heal. Whether IRL or even online. Sheep abound.

There is such a need for shepherds today! As I was reading Zechariah this morning I read that God is going to raise up a shepherd that won't (it is judgement time in the passage) visit those who are cut off, neither seek the young one, nor heal what is broken, nor feed what stands still. (Zecariah 11:16) These are all things a shepherd should be doing.

Are we?

My "new to me" nativity. I have never had one. It has gold. And is very pretty.
It was a steal at $10. Thrift Finds rock!
I think Joseph is missing, which is probably why its previous owners gave it up.
But, I am okay with a missing Joseph. We'll call him "there in spirit."
Are we visiting those who are cut off? In this holiday season of hustle and bustle, it is easy to forget those who have no family, or who aren't with their family in this season. Those who are lonely and feeling cut off. Are we inviting these people into are celebrations? Are we willing to be inconvenienced for them?

Are we seeking the young ones? I was mindful of this as Mr. Hippie has taken up discipling another young man. A young man who is searching right now. He is ready to kick Christianity and tradition out the door. He needs someone to seek him out and show him the love of Jesus Christ. My Mr. Hippie is shepherding this guy. I am so proud of him. But, what young am I seeking out?

Are we healing what is broken? There are many, many lives broken. Broken hearts. Broken relationships. Good news...Jesus Christ is looking to shine His glory out of the brokenness. My brokenness. Someone else's. He is looking to heal broken relationships. Am I emulating the peace of Christ in my relationships this year? Peace or my agenda?

Are we feeding those who stand still? Feeding physically? Feeding spiritually? There are so many organizations that you can hook up with to tangibly and physically feed someone this holiday season. There are also many opportunities in our lives to feed someone spiritually. To offer them the bread of life. To use our words, our tweets, our status updates, our blogs for something higher than right now. Higher than fashion or coupons or giveaways or recipes. (not knocking any of these-I do them all. But there should be more.) Feed people.

Are we leading? Shepherds lead. Everyone has someone they can lead. Your children. Your wife. People at your church. Your blog "followers." Where are you leading your sheep? Are you leading them to Jesus, the Great Shepherd?

I said that the shepherds were smelly and stinky and lowly. But, honestly, there were a whole lot of saints in the Bible who were shepherds-whether stinky or not. And they had faith. Simple, obedient faith.

Abel, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David...Jesus Christ

You are in great company when you take up the mantle of a Shepherd.

But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)

One of my sheep...enjoying the first snow of the season

The situation hasn't much changed today. Who has God given you to Shepherd? 

*Check back tomorrow for part 2 of my Nativity Tableau...The Sheep.