The sky must have been at its blackest. The radiant stars were glowing in its wonder. On a grassy hill that would serve as its bedding ground for a flock of sheep, the shepherds were preparing themselves for another evening of keeping watch. They knew the dangers. They recognized the importance of preserving their livelihood. Like a banker keeping watch of funds entrusted to them, the shepherds knew that the wool growing from the warm bodies of sheep was to keep their families provided for and alive. Yes, it was important to keep watch no matter how ordinary or mundane this task must be.
Christmas can seem that way. It seems that the busyness and distractions of our lives have made the celebration and meaning of Christmas seem ordinary, perhaps even mundane.
When the angels appeared to the shepherds on that night the Christ child was born, the ordinary suddenly became extraordinary. The heavens lit up and the spiritual realm that remains hidden to human eyes was revealed in all its splendor. Both terrifying and wonderful, the shepherds were given a light show that surpasses all imagination. But what transcended the appearance of the heavenly host was the message itself. The Christ had come lying in a manger in the town of Bethlehem. Just like the prophets foretold. God had kept his promise. Our Savior had been born.
For a message this important, the shepherds no longer kept watch, but made the effort, and the risk, by going to Bethlehem to see this child.
Perhaps we can do the same.
When Christ ascended into heaven he told us to keep watch. There would be rumors and signs in the form of birth pangs that would serve to keep us ready and watchful. He gave us a promise that he would return in all his glory. Just like the angels who appeared to the shepherds that the Christ child was born, Jesus Christ will come and appear. Earth will never be the same gain. The ordinary will suddenly become extraordinary. Our task, our challenge will be to remain watchful until that day comes.
Christmas is way to remind us that God keeps his promises. We give him thanks and praise that God became flesh so that we might be with him forever in heaven. Faith receives everything God has provided for us — including the assurance that we are 100% forgiven right now. This Christmas could be that time of reflection in a world of uncertainty where we can look up into the heavens with a watchful spirit that not only God has everything under control, but he has better promises in store that we can’t even imagine.
I think that will be my Christmas thought for this year. Be watchful!