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Do You Hear What I Hear?



Advent has always been a prominent part of the worship of the church. Some of my earliest memories of worship are of cantatas, pageants, living nativities, and candlelight Christmas Eve services. During my elementary age years the choir would prepare and perform songs that the children of the church would act out. Our volunteer children’s leaders would assign parts to the kids and organize rehearsals that would meet during Sunday School. Our simple costumes consisted of dad’s bathrobe; accessorized by a towel and necktie that would be fashioned into head wear. I always wanted a leading role, but usually ended up as a shepherd.

Perhaps we have romanticized the shepherds a bit much. Looking back in history, shepherds were often dishonest, unsavory men of poor reputation. No one in the first century would have trusted a shepherd, let alone have honored one. Part of their problem was that due to the nature of their work they were spiritually marginalized. They spent their lives, according to legend, tending the sheep that would be sacrificed in the Temple at Passover. As keepers of the Temple sheep, they could not observe all of the Jewish purification rites and rituals. They were an unclean sector of society that were a necessary evil. Imagine the irony of raising sheep for sacrifice in a Temple they could not enter.

Yet when Jesus was born the shepherds were the first to receive the news. Does that surprise you? It reminds me that the overriding theme of Christmas is that Jesus came to give his life for the down and out as well as the up and in. When the shepherds heard the good news they seized the moment. God spoke to them and he speaks to us. What can we learn from the shepherds about hearing God’s voice? Tomorrow I’ll post some observations about how we can hear God’s voice from the shepherd’s experience long ago.

Categories : Advent, Christmas

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