Shepherd’s Fields Wednesday, December 22, 2021
Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide.
Luke 2:9-10 The Message
When I reflect on Luke’s account of the Christmas announcement, I see a God of compassion. Compassion is derived from Latin words meaning “to suffer with.” The proclamation is targeted to shepherds living in a field. I imagine they led rugged lives and were somewhat marginalized members of their society. God chooses suffering servants to be the first Christian evangelists.
Although the shepherds were understandably terrified, they may have been amazed and enthused that they were selected to share this wonderful news. In any event, the shepherds understood God’s compassion for them needed to be shared with others.
We rejoice in this blessed announcement, but we also know the rest of the story. Throughout His ministry, Jesus will exhibit compassion to those around Him while being scorned, ridiculed, and eventually executed. Through Jesus, we see divine compassion.
Shepherds’ Field in Beit Sahour is the site commemorating the announcement to the shepherds. It’s located on a beautiful hillside with various small caves which would provide the sheep and shepherds a safe nightly haven. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to contemplate the angels and God’s glory appearing to the shepherds. You can also imagine the shepherds hurrying to Bethlehem, on a nearby hillside just over a mile away, to share the good news.
Unfortunately, the valley between Beit Sahour and Bethlehem reminds you of the current Israel/Palestine conflict, due to the presence of an Israeli military restricted road with barriers and barbed wire fencing. Though it’s a stark reminder of current pain and suffering, viewing it from the top of Shepherds’ Field is a powerful reassurance that Jesus‘ joyful birth provides hope for all.
Lord, we are thankful for Your compassion toward us. We confess the various times we allow life stresses to distract us from demonstrating compassion toward others. May the shepherds’ example prompt us to share that Christmas is meant for everybody, worldwide. Amen.
St. John’s Lutheran Church, Salisbury, NC
This devotional is a joint project between Christmas Lutheran (Bethlehem) and St. John’s (Salisbury, NC).