As we talk about a not-so-silent night, I think most of us can relate. We spend this season hustled and bustled. We spend these days flitting from one house to another to yet another still, while at the same time trying to prepare our homes to receive those who will, at some point, flit by here. We are baking cookies and wrapping presents and watching movies with cups of hot cocoa in our hands. And it's just all too easy for these not-so-calm days to slip away.
Which is why we must be mindful of the shepherds.
At the birth of Jesus, the shepherds saw in the sky a star. A glimmer of light in the darkness. A little thing that shone brighter than all the rest. They noticed, and they walked in pursuit of that star, flocks, we can assume, in tow (for the sheep know the voice of the shepherd, and his tender hand, and they obey him). They followed that star all the way to a manger where a little baby boy, wrapped in swaddling clothes, was taking his first breaths in this world, where a mother was holding her child for the first time, where a father was laying eyes on his newborn son. They came to the manger to behold all of this.
And all it took was a little light to lead them there.
That's why it's so important that we, as children of God, as Christians, keep our eyes open for the light this season. We have to be vigilant for it. Maybe we're looking at the same things we always see, the same "sky" that's always before us this time of year - the trees and the lights and the presents and the families and the dinners and the cookies and the Santas and the stories and....well, you know what the Christmas season looks like these days. But we have to keep our eyes open and notice that there's one star that shines brighter than all of the others, there's one light in this darkness that we just can't turn away from. There's one glimmer of hope calling us to Jesus.
We have to notice because it is our job to lead our families, our friends, our neighbors to the manger. We are the shepherds. The persons we share our holidays with, they know our voices. They know our tender hands. They trust us, at least enough to be part of their story. That's why we're spending Christmas with them. And so we must use our voices, our tender hands, the trust they have placed in us, and walk faithfully toward a manger where a little baby boy lay.
If we don't, who will?
It's all too easy to lose Jesus this season, and the words of the Teacher Himself come true - like sheep without a shepherd, they have all gone astray. But it just takes one shepherd to start to bring them back. It takes one faithful man, one faithful woman, whose voice the people know, whose tender hand the people know, whose spirit the people know, to turn toward Heaven and behold a light and start walking toward a manger. Then those we love, those we're sharing our stories with, those we're sharing our cookies with (please take some more), will follow and before we know it, we're standing 'round a manger beholding a little baby boy, wrapped in swaddling clothes, taking his first breaths in this world. We're seeing a mother hold her blessed child for the first time, a father lay eyes on his newborn son. We're seeing the spirit of Christmas among us, for it is there before us. And even though we know there are still all the lights and the trees and the presents and the cookies and the here and there and everywheres and the last-minute rush and all that goes into this season...it still feels calm.
For at least this moment, all is calm.
Will you come in from the fields this Christmas? Will you lead your family to Jesus?