December 2, 2011
While Shepherds Watched and Women Work
"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them." Luke 2:16-18 (NIV 1984)
"Tell me about the shepherds again Mommy. It is my favoritist part!" three-year-old Mitch pleaded. It was the week after Thanksgiving and we had started our nightly December ritual: reading the Christmas tale chosen from a basket perched beneath our twinkling tree.
We'd collected dozens of colorful storybooks that illustrated the account of the nativity story. Mitch's favorite part was always the shepherds. Ever since his chubby little fingers could grasp the pasteboard pages, he'd pause and stare at the portraits of rough and tumble men wandering in the wilderness, watching over their flocks by night.
My son's fascination prompted me to dig further into the lessons I could learn from the shepherds.
That first Christmas night these humble guys, often looked down on by society, were busy going about their daily tasks: feeding and watering; prodding and protecting; nursing the injured and encouraging the timid. They were also watching out for hungry predators that might harm their precious lambs.
When the shepherds heard the heavenly chorus, their lives changed forever. Yet the sudden interruption may have been a strange inconvenience at first. After all, sheep need constant supervision. Taking their eyes off them for even a moment might have been detrimental.
Little did these shepherds know they were about to encounter the Great Shepherd, secretly wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
I think women, especially those with children in our lives, can sometimes feel like modern-day shepherds. We certainly do our fair share of feeding, watering, prodding, protecting, nursing, encouraging and watching out for anything that might harm our lambs. At times our job is also dirty, and sometimes unpleasant, with very few "atta girls" or social recognition. Yet it is also significant.
Even moms raising kids who are almost ready to leave the fold still have important work to do.
Our children are never too old to be reminded of Christmas's core message: Christ came to earth to offer hope and new life for all who turn their hearts to Him. Perhaps we begin with storybook illustrations and later transition to opportunities to live the message.
As our own kids have grown, it's been a thrill to join them in reaching out at Christmas with the good news of Christ. Helping in soup kitchens or homeless shelters. Adopting a Christmastime family we serve with food or gifts. Shoveling driveways or assisting a widow with the tasks of the season.
What else could we do to live out the timeless message; the one my little lamb enjoyed hearing year after year?
In the midst of this busy month, let's stop. Put down the tinsel; discontinue the decorating. Turn down the Christmas carols and get alone to be silent.
Let's allow God to interrupt our daily routine to introduce us once again to our Good Shepherd. Let's pause, ponder, and like the shepherds, tell those in our family about this remarkable Christ-child. Then together we can help echo to others this enduring hope:
"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" (Luke 2:10b-11, NIV 1984).
Dear Lord, help me pause amidst the busyness and ponder the wonder of You sending the Christ-child to earth. May I instill in my kids a love of pointing others to Your perfect, sacrificial Son. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Do You Know Him?
Need help simplifying your Christmas tasks so you have more time to reach out to others during the holidays? Check out Karen and LeAnn Rice's new e-book Untangling Christmas: Your Go-To Guide for a Hassle-Free Holiday.
Visit Karen's site where she's giving away a Christmas organizational gift basket and a copy of Untangling Christmas: Your Go-To Guide for a Hassle-Free Holiday!
Choose three activities to do during this hectic time of year that will encourage you to pause and reflect on the real meaning of Christmas. Perhaps a ten-minute time out with a cup of cocoa or watching the snow fall with your kids. Or read the account of the first Christmas from Luke chapter two very slowly, letting the words and the wonder sink deep into your soul.
How can I creatively use this season as an opportunity for my children and me to tell others about the marvelous news of Jesus Christ?
Acts 10:36, "You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all." (NIV 1984)
Romans 10:14-15, "How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'" (ESV)
© 2011 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Friday, 02 December 2011.