This advent season, check the Vyrso blog each weekday for advent reflections that will inspire and encourage you to reflect on the true reason for Christmas. You’ll hear from a variety of authors with original posts and featured excerpts from Christmas-focused ebooks.
Spend time reflecting with Cynthia Ruchti as she reflects on Luke 2:8. Cynthia takes the verse and breaks the meaning apart bit-by-bit.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night.” Luke 2:8 KJV
This familiar line from the second chapter of Luke has shown up in every Christmas pageant, on Christmas cards, as the inspiration for Christmas ornaments, in homes that use it as an important centerpiece of their family celebrations, and in formal readings of the Christmas story from cathedrals to churches to chapels to A Charlie Brown Christmas.
In some ways, it’s served as a call to worship for my soul—calling me deeper into the story I know follows those well-rehearsed words.
This year has been no less crammed full of activities and deadlines, responsibilities and expectations. But it’s also been a year of observation, of tuning my heart to look more closely at things I’ve rushed past.
So, as the calendar, the weather, and the playlists on radio stations tell me Christmas is approaching, I’m taking that single verse more slowly to savor what it says, to see what I might have missed as I hurried past it. Nineteen short, ordinary words with a lifetime of reflection embedded in their message.
And there were—
The “and” tells us this is continuation of a story already in progress. It adds to the rest already laid out in the earlier verses of Luke 2—that Mary gave birth to God’s Son in Bethlehem, wrapped him in swaddling clothes (somehow an important enough detail to include), and laid him in a manger (also a divinely appointed detail). Then comes the and. Connected to the rest of the story. Not coincidental. Not serendipitous. Not oh, by the way. And.
In the same country—
Nearby. The closeness matters. It matters to you and me. Are we standing close enough for the miraculous to be visible when it happens? Are we in the same vicinity, so when the incredible unfolds we can be part of the story? What does that change in our Christmas preparations?
Why not musicians, who could add flair to the celebration? Why not scholars, who could instantly confirm the fulfillment of ancient prophesies? Why not the wealthy, who could help get the word out more efficiently and pull together a spectacle of a feast, maybe even throw some influence around to get Mary and Joseph a room and a handcrafted cradle? Why shepherds?
Part of the answer may lie further into the story of Jesus. He—following the pattern of His Father—often chose the least likely candidate for any of the tasks He assigned. (Click to Tweet!) Fishermen, tax collectors, the unconfident, ostracized, berated, shamed, broken, ordinary… You and I qualify.
Abiding in the fields—
The first century’s homeless. Shepherds. Nomadic by nature and occupation. Living off the land, just like their sheep. Abiding. Making a life out of what they were given.
Keeping watch over their flocks—
Ah. Not just abiding. Doing something productive, but not in the way we tend to measure productivity. They weren’t making a name for themselves, making the news, or making a fuss. And this is the connector that made me lean in. The announcement of their Redeemer’s birth came to them as they were “keeping watch.” As they stayed observant. Alert. Attentive. God didn’t have to tap them on the shoulder, pull them away from a project, or interrupt their schedule. Because they were watching, they caught the first glimmers of God’s glory, the first faint flutter of angel’s wings.
Against a black sky, an inky backdrop, God announced the arrival of His Son to the world. And those watching the sky, far from the star-dimming commotion of the city, were quick to notice the dramatic contrast. Light for our darkness. Stark difference. An in-your-face message that illuminated souls even more than it lit the night.
Years ago, as I faced a similar in-my-face message about my greatest Christmas need—attentiveness, alertness, observation—these lyrics emerged:
You turned the nomad shepherds
To a path that led them to
A musty, dusty stable
You led them straight to You
You called the myriad angels
From tending other things
You turned their hearts toward shepherd boys
And toward an infant King
You turned the donkey’s head
As he bore his burden rare
You turned the woman’s moans to joy
As they split the cold night air
You even turned the Star away
From its accustomed route
Its light bore right through stable roofs
And shouted, yet stood mute
You turned the path of wisest kings
To journey toward the light
You drew them with bright cords of love
That pierced the black of night
And I will turn my eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His sweet infant face
And the things of earth will grow dim, so dim
In the light of His glory and grace.*
I stood under a star-bedazzled sky last night. Quiet. Still. With arms thrown wide, I whispered, “Here I am. Waiting. Watching. This is where I’ll be—abiding—when You make Yourself known this Christmas.”
*Poem written by Cynthia Ruchti, copywright 1999, revised 2015, (Helen H. Lemmel’s 1922 public domain lyrics incorporated in the last stanza)
This advent season, check the Vyrso blog each weekday for advent reflections that will inspire and encourage you to reflect on the true reason for Christmas. You’ll hear from a variety of authors with original posts and featured excerpts from Christmas-focused ebooks. Spend time reflecting with Cynthia Ruchti as she reflects on Luke 2:8. Cynthia takes the verse and […]