And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
God of Glory,
It is so like You to suddenly show up in the most unlikely places to the most unexpected people in a manner that is utterly unpredictable. Instead of showing up to the Pharisees or the pious, You appeared to a bunch of brawny, broad-shouldered shepherds who lived in the wild and battled the beasts. These rough and rugged men were petrified by the powerful light of Your presence. Sheer fear seized their troubled minds! But, in the light was good news! The promised, hoped-for Savior of the world, the Messiah, had arrived in the promised city. Out of the pitch black night came the paralyzing light from a choir of angels singing praises of Your promised peace on earth.
O Lord, what hope this gives me at Christmas time! You still make divine visits to the most improbable people camped out in the most unbelievable places in a manner that is totally unpredictable. When the terrifying light of Your glory surrounds our messy and mundane lives, we have no reason to be afraid because there is perfect peace in Your presence. With You, we can stand in the light and live free from shame, fear, ridicule, rejection, pain, suffering and sorrow. During the impenetrable nighttime of the soul, You leave us with the precious and priceless gift of peace - peace of heart and mind. Hallelujah! Thank You, Jesus! Amen.
The psalmist says, "For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him." NLT Psalm 34:7
There is an angel in God's presence telling us to not be afraid, offering us the priceless peace of God - not the peace of the world, but God's peace. What is God's peace? Jesus tells us in John 14:27 "I am leaving you with a gift-peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid." NLT
If you are in a dark and frightening place this Christmas, be still and let the peace of God's presence surround you.
While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
Words: Nahum Tate, 1700
Music: Christmas, George F. Handel, 1728
While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
All seated on the ground,
The angel of the Lord came down,
And glory shone around,
And glory shone around.
"Fear not!" said he, for mighty dread
Had seized their troubled mind.
"Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind
To you and all mankind.
"To you, in David's town, this day
Is born of David's line
A Savior, who is Christ the Lord,
And this shall be the sign,
And this shall be the sign.
"The heavenly Babe you there shall find
To human view displayed,
All meanly wrapped in swathing bands,
And in a manger laid,
And in a manger laid."
Thus spake the seraph and forthwith
Appeared a shining throng
Of angels praising God on high,
Who thus addressed their song,
Who thus addressed their song:
"All glory be to God on high,
And to the Earth be peace;
Good will henceforth from Heaven to men
Begin and never cease,
Begin and never cease!"