Christmas Day Devotion

The first to bow down, and the first to rise up

When:  A few days before Christmas 1971.

Where: The fellowship hall of Lutheran Chapel Church in Gastonia.

What: The kindergarten Christmas production.

More importantly? My debut as a shepherd. Could very well have been the best, most authentic shepherd in the history of kindergarten Christmas productions. Although, now that I think about it, shepherds 2,000 years ago probably didn’t wear striped velour bathrobes. And a real shepherd staff was likely a bit sturdier than the dead dogwood branch I found in the back yard. But in my 5-year-old mind, I was the real deal. I had always wanted to be a shepherd in the Christmas production. This was my moment.

We’ve travelled through this Advent season surrounded by messages of peace, hope, and light. We’ve encountered time-honored characters along the way like Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth and Zachariah and King Herod. But at the end of the day — or should I say, the middle of the night — it’s the lonely shepherd who takes center stage. He’s the first to hear and the first to respond. He’s the first to see and the first to know. The first to bow down and the first to rise up, eager to tell the world about this baby boy.

I haven’t dressed like a shepherd since I was 5 years old, but that won’t stop me from, once again, stepping into this new Christmas day with the same wide-eyed wonder. I may not be the first to see, but I’ll be the next to proclaim.

Shepherds, why this jubilee? Why your joyous strains prolong?

What the gladsome tidings be, which inspire your heavenly song?

Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Gloria in excelsis Deo!


May the peace, hope, and light of Christ be with you this Christmas morn.

by Pastor Rhodes Woolly