A bright bouquet of balloons. Pretty colors, happy messages, floating in the air above my head. Lacy ribbons curling to the floor, children’s faces beaming with giggles and smiles! The official heralds of happiness have arrived!
Balloons are funny. The rubber ones don’t usually survive more than a day, but mylar balloons will last a long time if they don’t get punctured. We had a bunch once that floated around our house for a week after a party was over. They weren’t a nuisance until they arrived uninvited in the middle of the night. Silently, stealthily, they drifted into our bedroom. I awoke with a jolt! All I could see was the silhouette of a strange bobbing head, hanging there in the dark. Gee willy creepers! My heart skipped ten beats and my entire body was covered with goosebumps until I realized what it was! It took me the next three hours to calm down enough to fall back asleep.
To a certain group of people, that was the situation on the night of Jesus’ birth. There were no balloons, but there was fear and surprise. Angels…… they showed up unannounced in the middle of the fields where they were watching their sheep. The first response of the shepherds – terror……
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
It’s hard for me to read that story and not get goosebumps of a different kind. There is something magical about the announcement and the events surrounding that night.
Shepherds, some of the lowliest of all people in society, invited to participate in the dawn of a new age, the birth of a new king, the coming of Emmanuel.
Why shepherds? Why not musicians and choirs? Why not the heads of state? Because God chooses the meek and the humble things of the earth to bewilder the proud.
The mug is raised today as we usher in a new Christmas season. Here’s to celebrating the warmth of the holidays with new wonder and excitement at the coming of Christ.
All verse quotes courtesy of biblegateway.com