So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
While we all know this story, I wonder if it's really possible to get inside the minds of these shepherds, to know what it was like to experience this heavenly interruption to the workaday routine? Probably not, but it is such a fascinating scene, that I can't help but wonder what it must have been like for these unprepared, unsuspecting men.
Besides reminding myself that I would not be whipping out my phone to record the scene and upload to You Tube, I have a very real difficulty placing myself in the shoes of the shepherds:
Being initially terrified by the angelic visit? -- Check.
Listening to the announcement without a word? -- Not a problem.
Feeling relief at the assurance not to be afraid? -- Definitely.
Wanting to see the baby the angel spoke of? -- Absolutely!
Actually leaving my job site with work in progress, and exposing the animals entrusted to my care to danger, to travel some distance back into town to search for a family of complete strangers in an unknown location, for a reason that wouldn't be remotely plausible to my boss, if he should ever ask?
Are you kidding?
What about the sheep? What if they got scared and wandered off? What if a predator attacked them? What if someone came along and stole some of them? What if the owner checked in, as Murphy's Law dictates, right when I'm gone and not paying attention?
Is anyone out there with me?
Anyone else so conditioned to being obligated to maintaining the routine of earthly responsibility, that the risk of consciously taking a pass on the arrival of Jesus into your world is a very real possibility?
I'm not talking about being too busy to notice He's there. I don't mean never hearing the message, or being persecuted or prevented in some way.
I mean knowing He is there, having every opportunity to go to Him, and deciding, like George Bailey did when Sam Wainwright offered him a ride to Florida, "I'm afraid I just couldn't get away."
Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting anyone cast aside the responsibilities of life in the name of Jesus.
But there is something we should learn in the spontaneous decision of these shepherds to leave their flocks unattended in the fields long enough to get themselves to Jesus and be changed by His presence. To trust that everything would be all right long enough to see the One they needed to see, to get hold of a story they would be telling the rest of their lives. And I imagine there was joy in the Father's heart every time these men recounted this event to anyone who would listen.
What better time than now?
Step away from your work. Stop your routine. Disconnect from media.
It'll all be OK. Everything will be there when you return. The Father who wants you to know His Son will cover you.
And you will find yourself eager with anticipation for the next time His arrival is announced by angels in the sky.