Throughout the northern quadrant of the earth there is a winter chill in the air. If you step outside briefly into
the silent night, the refreshing crisp air and starlit skies bring the heavens right to you; surrounding,
overwhelming you as you stare into the expanse above. It’s chilling and full of wonder and in the moment you
are as one with the universe.
So too must have the shepherds felt in ancient days gone by. Undoubtedly on a hillside somewhere on the
outskirts of Bethlehem there were a few shepherds huddling around a small campfire, rubbing their hands to
get warm, wrapped in sheepskin coverings. Some sheep were peacefully grazing, others resting, all content
in their guardians’ expert care. The men spoke few words to one another as they stoked the same fire that
had been used many times before. The night was chillingly cold and quiet. The black skies of early evening
had become a glorious display of stars in the wee hours of the morning; the heavens unfolding into a
plethora of sparkling dots of light. It was an eerily silent night.
These were simple men. They did their jobs dutifully and loyally. Some of them had families who depended
on them. When suddenly a mighty angel appeared to them with the news of a Christ child being born in a
manger nearby, they didn’t question, but gathered their things together and set out to seek the newborn.
How could they not? The heavens had opened up and an angelic choir of unprecedented magnitude was
strewn across the sky singing in glorious harmony.
The shepherds were awestruck.
They hurried to pay reverent homage to the homeless child. They searched the city and eventually found
the baby among pathetic accommodations, yet there was great joy and peace abounding all around the
manger. Surely, if only a fleeting thought, they questioned within themselves what it could all mean? All eyes
were upon them as they related what had just happened out on the cold hillsides. Joseph and Mary were
comforted and filled with encouragement. Everyone around the manger became blessed at that very instant,
even the onlookers who were astounded and overwhelmed at everything that was going on. Joseph
breathed a sigh of relief. Mary was pensive, deep in thought, yet she subtly smiled. There was a sense of
peace and hope. There was a resilient joy.
The still night air of winter; the starry skies. We share a commonality with a handful of people who in great
humility experienced a miracle borne of love. What a thrill to step outside by oneself on a cold night this
Christmas season and reflect upon what God has done.