|Word Guild Award|
Tuesday, December 01, 2015
A Christmas Meditation - The Ever New Old Story by Eleanor Shepherd
It was God’s special night. It was the night for the promise to be fulfilled. There in the stillness of that smelly stable, Mary’s baby was born. The promise of the Garden of Eden was at last being realized. The cry of the prophets was being answered. The way back to God was opening for all people. The wondrous gift was given and Bethlehem slept.
But not everyone was asleep. Outside the city walls, working through the night were the shepherds. They were rough men, uneducated, but honest labourers. In religious circles they were suspect, because they were regarded as ceremonially unclean. They were considered unreliable and thus were not permitted to testify in a court of law. To such unlikely common folk the good news came.
The site they inhabited still exists today. There is still a place called Shepherd’s Field, just outside the city of Bethlehem. We have a picture that Glen took of the spot when he visited there some forty years ago. But more than 2000 years ago, the shepherds who were out there that night, were going about their business, looking after the sheep they were responsible for. And on that wonderful night, Shepherd’s Field became a special place, significant for all time.
On that night the unsuspecting shepherds were startled by a blinding light. The heard musical anthems, that seemed to come from Heaven.
Now they were just ordinary fellows, so you can imagine how confused and bewildered they must have felt. All this frightened them. Then an angel spoke to them.
“Don’t be afraid,” he said. “I have come to tell you some wonderful news. This is news that will impact all people everywhere. Tonight, in Bethlehem, a Saviour has been born. You can go and see for yourselves. You will find this baby lying in a manger, in a stable.”
It was God’s moment. The world would never be the same again. A Saviour, Christ the Lord had been born in Bethlehem.
Suddenly the sky lit up. A whole host of angels were singing. They were praising God and celebrating the tremendous act of God in coming to earth to save those whom sin had separated from Him.
The shepherds looked at one another. They decided that they could not let something like this pass them by. They had to go and see. Huffing and puffing, they ran shouting to the stable. And just like the angel had told them, there they found Him. As they trouped inside, they stopped in their tracks. He was lying quietly in the makeshift cot – the Saviour of the world. Bending tenderly over the tiny newborn was Mary his mother and close by her stood her attentive husband, Joseph.
The shepherds had never felt anything like it. Maybe they did not understand the full significance of the event, but they did have the sense that they were somehow in the presence of God, Himself.
And when they left, they could not contain their exuberance. They shouted out the news. The Bible says that they went out, “…glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen.” (Luke 2: 20) The excitement spread. Soon the whole town knew. God’s moment of deliverance had come. The promise had been fulfilled. The Saviour was born.
But some people did not understand. In Jerusalem, six miles away, King Herod did not understand. Some of the religious leaders did no understand. The Roman soldiers did not understand.
God has acted. We have graciously been given a way back to God. We have the promise that if we admit our need of God, if we believe in Jesus as our Saviour, as our Lord, then we can become true children of God. We can enter into joyful fellowship with God, our loving Heavenly Father.
When we accept the Saviour of the World, the power of Satan, the one who spoiled it all in Eden is overcome. He is defeated. God has kept His promise. He has acted. There is a way available to the God who stands with open arms ready to embrace us and welcome us home. Thanks be to God!
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