With dirt on their brow and staffs at the ready, the shepherds diligently tended to the sheep. Up on that hill in Bethlehem, who’s name means house of bread, these men were more than our western-tradition labels of lowly and marginal. Not in the least!
If we look to ancient Jewish history and tradition, we would know these shepherds where priests. The sheep they so carefully tended were temple sacrifice sheep to present to the Lord as perfect and without spot or blemish. Priestly shepherds in the mud and muck of holy ground out in the fields, day in and day out they labored with care and pride knowing these sheep played no small part in the worship of Yahweh. And because of their steadfast care, these priestly shepherds sat in awe and wonder as the angles announced the coming of the One True Lamb.
Priests in the daily labor of worship.
Priests with steadfast care who labored as worship in their God-given assignment.
Priests to whom God first revealed His bigger picture.
Advent is about the bigger picture, yes! It is when we make ourselves available to see the awe and wonder of God’s holiness, mercy, love, power, even in the mundane…we see a broader view of God and His good hand at work. I don’t know about you, but I want to be like those priestly shepherds diligently serving where God plants my feet. In our here and now, His bigger picture is at work. In our mundane and daily grind, His grander plan is at play. And, if we choose to look past our human understanding and live with a sense of anticipation, we too, can be like the shepherds and take our part in the unfolding of the Kingdom bigger picture.
Priests in the movement of washing dishes and hearing God’s voice at the sink.
Priests in our cubicle while working with whole hearts as unto the Lord.
Priests at the park speaking life into the mom who struggles with her toddler.
Priests calling out the gold in our husband rather than digging up dirt in frustration.
Priests in living as vessels of God’s very presence.
This is the bigger picture and this is where we operate in awe and wonder, living a life of worship.
But do we grasp this bigger picture? Do we hold it like weighty gold rather than fleeting, distracting glitter? I want to come to a place this Advent where I take not for granted the weight and value of the Cross. The bigger picture is that God is the beginning and the end. And with the eternal, bigger picture at work, the birth of Messiah-Jesus, changed the course of human history. As Word made flesh, God’s word never falters, fades or stands errant. This gives me so much comfort and firm footing as I stand in awe and wonder. And just like the prophets of old proclaimed, our Messiah hung on a tree, the Cross of Calvary. Immanuel, God with us, died for us. Let us keep this truth fresh on our hearts!
With that bigger picture still at play, we know our sin is real and we are in need of real forgiveness…true forgiveness…once and for all it was covered by His blood. And He didn’t stop there. No! Death could not hold our Jesus. For, three days later He conquered death, sin and shame and rose to life victoriously. Will you sit and worship in this truth today? Will you sit in expectation like those priestly shepherds on the hill?
But what will we do with this new found clarity of the bigger picture? Will we look toward His radiance and live in the light of His glory as we love Him with our whole heart, soul, mind and strenth? Will we take on priestly duties with honor and love our neighbors as ourselves? Yes, we will because the One who created that bigger picture has a place for us, just like the priestly shepherds, to experience the glory of His Son.
With open hearts, Lord, we sit with awe and wonder. Then, we will stand and embrace our here and now, knowing that we are part of your bigger picture. Amen!