It's only mid-October and the worn pages of my Bible already want to flip to Luke 2. The anticipation of Christ coming is already fluttering through my heart, so I peek ahead and read Mary's song and Joseph's obedience and angel glory among the stars.
And there they are. . . in the middle of God with us. . . right in the center of holy made human. . . perhaps the most human of us. . . shepherds. Since childhood I've wondered at this mystery of the shepherds. Of all the people in all of the earth, why do we see the worn, wandering wilderness walkers. The keepers of livestock, with the scent of open air and dust and fleece clinging to their weathered skin. These men who live slow, ceaselessly watching these low, little lambs.
These men who hold fast to the staff, who steer the wandering ones back to safety, to quiet waters and green pastures. These peace seekers, these care givers, these shelter makers give their hours and moments and days to the care of the sheep. Always seeking their interest, always protecting, always pursuing life.
Even in the night watches they are present. For the darkness proves to be a great testing ground where lurking wolves, and steepest slopes, and danger prowl the night. But the shepherd is there, ever watching his sheep. And the sheep rest calm in the evening breezes, still in the shadows, ever trusting their faithful shepherd.
Until one night, changes everything.
A new shepherd has come. . . One who will shepherd the people. One who will bend low, and care, and show us the way. One who will guide us in righteous paths and provide our every need, a restorer of souls. A perfect Shepherd whose presence walks with us through the very valley of death's shadow and brings us into the shelter of His light. One who gives abundantly of His truth and mercy and grace.
But now that servant Shepherd is wrapped in newborn skin and the holy human holds a virgin's hand. And there is cause for rejoicing because the mighty is made miniscule to feel our suffering and heal our hearts.
And who better to tell the world than a handful of men who know the ministry of shepherding?
I am glad the Maker of heaven and earth sent His holy messengers to tell the men on the hillside of Immanuel, God with Us. I believe it was no accident that the Good Shepherd told his friends first. For He has come to seek and to save. . . just like a shepherd, my shepherd.