‘Journeying: Shepherds to Jesus’ Let’s pray… Rev. Stuart Buisch
I offer my life to you, Lord. In some sense going out on a journey is an offering of our life to
whatever or whoever we believe in. The statistics of death on a journey are tragic and the
number of accidents that occur within a few miles of our departure site, our home are also
Leaving your front door is a risk. Shepherds were doing what shepherds do – watching their
sheep. Donkeys, llamas etc were not yet used as defenses against the predators on the hills.
Let’s face it the wifi wasn’t any good but then the stress levels were perhaps lower. Having a
night sky to look at, sleep under with constantly changing views. Any place that we find
ourselves is the starting point for the adventure we call life. On a hill with sheep, in an office
with a computer, on the road with a list of customers, on the web with a zoom meeting, in a
group home caring and working to give individuals the best quality of life possible.. the list
could go on. All of these are possible starting points for us. Unlike Mary where Gabriel
immediately starts talking and Mary gets to thinking about the words and the experience of an
angel, the shepherds have a moment to look at the angel. The glory of God shone around the
angel and all of that was fear-filled. This was new for those who were guarding sheep. If you
ponder it, it would be new in our work place. Frankly none of us are looking for angels.
Neither were the shepherds. The shepherds maybe weren’t even thinking about being
oppressed by Rome, being set free by a Messiah. If they were sitting around the fire they may
have wondered how the fire had jumped from the circle to this figure. Glory could be flame
like. How would they protect their sheep? What would we think if such an experience came
our way? Would everyone we work with see it?
Whatever those first few feelings may be like, the angel – messenger had a message. God is
with us. The Savior is born today, not just the, your savior. This Jesus was for them. For us.
This Savior was for all people. He is in a manger wrapped snugly. One can almost imagine
that the choirs of angels had been pushing one another eager to cry out when the message was
complete. The thing that God had been waiting on, working toward for centuries was
happening. Christ was born of Mary, Christ was with us. The messiah had arrived. No wonder
the angels burst forth into song.
A composer has just created a piece of music emulating the northern lights. It is rather wavy,
modern and mystical. One wonders how the angelic choir sounded. Did they sing only once
or repeated like a fugue. That is not the point. The point is the shepherds, offered their lives to
the Lord and went to David’s city to see the savior. The believed the angel’s words and music
enough to go. They hurried to Mary and Joseph and found the baby. They reported to Mary
and Joseph their experience out on the hills. It seems that as they reported they remembered
that they had left the sheep and hurried back. Everyone who heard them was amazed.
The shepherds returned to their flocks but nothing was ever the same. I don’t know when you
decide to decorate for Christmas, if you decorate. I don’t know what the house becomes for
you in the Christmas season. At some point ‘things get back to normal’. Even if you got a new
shirt, skirt, hat etc. When you wear the new thing or see the new thing in your house or office
you may recall the one who gave, the moment you saw it first and you may be warmed by that
memory but all in all things get back to normal.
My sense is that the shepherds never got back to normal. The local religious leaders weren’t
impacted by this experience. No record of that is recorded. But the shepherds sounded and
acted a bit like that angelic choir -glorifying and praising God. Everything happened as they
First let us note that this savior was for all people, everyone who heard rejoiced. Today we
value independent positions and beliefs. So how do we balance sharing our great news with
respecting others for their positions. Is it clear to everyone we know that we have met the
savior of all and that God’s love and life pours through us to them? Could it be that we like
very much to have our salvation and those who don’t agree with us don’t deserve our kind of
salvation. It certainly merits reflecting on when we meet people do we seek to see what this
savior baby saw in the people around him? Is bearing witness to what we believe rooted in an
idea of sharing what we have with those who don’t have it? Could we listen to their stories and
share our stories without being pushovers or embarrassed?
Further, what is the nature of the thing that could pull us out ofour routine? What would it
take for us to leave our flocks and find out about an angel’s message? Certainly, today there
are those who don’t believe many things, for their own good or otherwise. What makes
something reliable and therefore believable and worth leaving our situation to check it out?
Finally, what would it mean to have our entire life changed by a baby in a manger? How long
would that impact last? A week, a month, a lifetime. Imagine with me as Christ hung on the
cross a fifty or sixty-year old shepherd reaching down to his grandchild and telling them the
story of that night. What will that child hear, what will that child believe and what does that
shepherd still believe? In the name of the Maker of Stars, the Bearer of sins, and the Wind of
God, blowing in us, amen.
Gracious God, let your compassion pour through our doubts and strengthen us for service…
Holy Christ, reveal your presence into our everyday and set us free to follow…
Burning Wind, extinguish the chaff in our souls and let your passion fuel our witness…