8 Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night. 9 The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were terrified.
10 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. 11 Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. 12 This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, 14 “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.”
15 When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go right now to Bethlehem and see what’s happened. Let’s confirm what the Lord has revealed to us.” 16 They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they reported what they had been told about this child. 18 Everyone who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. 20 The shepherds returned home, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Everything happened just as they had been told.
Children and adults who who have seen A Charlie Brown Christmas know the part of the story when Linus drops his security blanket and recites from Luke 2:8-14, telling Charlie Brown “what Christmas is all about.” It’s so familiar that after watching it for years, you can probably recite these verses right along with Linus. Yet sometimes when things are so familiar, we miss the little details of the birth of Jesus.
First, we have an angel of the Lord in all its glory, appearing to shepherds, an outcast class of people so untrustworthy they were not permitted to bear witness in court. Yet, they were the ones chosen to bear witness to the birth of the Messiah. They are terrified until the angel says “Fear not! I bring you good news.” Then the heavenly host appears, pouring out praise, saying, “Glory to God!” The shepherds go and seek out the baby, finding him with Mary and Joseph. They bear witness to what they’ve seen, leaving those who hear the good news amazed. The shepherds then return to the fields continuing to glorify and praise God.
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Mary, first told by the angel Gabriel that she would bear the long awaited Messiah, now hears from the shepherds that her son is to be called Savior, Messiah, the LORD. The shepherds’ account confirms all that she had been told. The Greek word for ‘treasured’ is to “keep close” and for ‘ponder’ is to “throw together” or “consider.” So Mary kept these things close and considered all the extraordinary things Gabriel and the shepherds told her about her son Jesus. Mary believed that God would fulfill his promise to send a Savior – the good news of great joy for all the people.
By Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
On this Christmas Eve, like the angels, let us give glory to God for his gift of love and grace. Fear not at what lies ahead, for we have the good news that Jesus is our Savior. Like the shepherds, let us seek and believe and share the good news with others. And like Mary, let us treasure the gift of salvation and ponder the Love God has for us in our hearts!
Prayer: Eternal God, this joyful day is radiant with the brilliance of your one true light. May that light illuminate our hearts and shine in our words and deeds. May the hope, the peace, the joy, and the love represented by the birth in Bethlehem fill our lives and become part of all we say and do. May we share the divine life of your Son Jesus Christ, even as he humbled himself to share our humanity. And let us be thankful for a light in the night – the wondrous, true gift of Christmas, your Son. Amen.