Advent, Week Three
How terrifying and strange it must have been to be in a dark field at night, tending a flock of sleephing sheep, when suddenly the sky lit up in a heavenly display of angels, singing and worshiping God! Angels, whenever they appear in Scripture, must tell the people they appear to "fear not," presumably because they are fearsome in their power and glory and beauty. And how strange for these lowly shepherds to witness this holy and blessed announcement, as if they were somehow worthy of receiving the news before anyone else.
To be a shepherd in Israel in Jesus' day was to be a member of the lowest social class; shepherds were deemed unclean, they had the reputation of being rough, dishonest scoundrels, and Jewish scholars in those days puzzled over the question of how it could be possible for David to have referred to God as his Shepherd in Psalm 23.
And yet, aside from his parents, shepherds tending their flocks in the fields at night were essentially the first to hear about the birth of the Savior of the world. The angels spoke to them of "good news of great joy, which shall be for all the people" as they cowered in fear, scarcely daring to look up at the amazing scene overhead.
Discussion: Why do you think God chose shepherds to be the first to hear the Good News?
Family activity: If you know anyone who has sheep, it could be a fun activity, especially for young children, to take them to see and pet them. Look around town for a "living nativity" that might actually include sheep and other animals that your kids could see and perhaps even touch. The Deanna Rose farm might be a good place to see the kinds of animals that might have been in or near the stable where Jesus was born. Here is an article that includes some information about being a shepherd in Jesus' day.
Advent reading for Week 3:
December 11, 2016: Third Sunday of Advent