Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC
Sunday, December 13, Morning
By Bishop Richard C. Looney
Shepherds Heard and Responded – Will We?
Read Luke 2:8-20
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
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.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
The account of angels appearing to the shepherds is one of my favorite Advent events. They brought incredibly good news to shepherds in the fields, and they were heard. Have we ever been in greater need for good news? “Great joy for all people.” “Glory to God in highest heaven, and on earth peace.”
And surely the news should have first come to the high priests, bishops, pastors, and leaders. Yet the lowly shepherds, common laborers, heard first. And still that is true today. Some of the most unlikely persons are most open to God’s truth and filled with God’s Spirit. So may I not dream also of receiving some heavenly truth?
But they were not in the temple or other sacred place. They were in the fields with the sheep, and there they heard the joyful sound. Is that not like our loving God? We love our magnificent sanctuary, but we have heard the angels sing through virtual worship. Through TV I have been able to worship with you these last several months, and have experienced God through the magnificent organ, soloists, choirs, ensembles, drone pictures, mission announcements, prayers, and sermons. The angels still sing.
Even stranger was the word of instruction. The Messiah will be found in a manger, not a palace, nor resort hotel, but a stable. And in the strangest places we find Him today. Will I be willing to see? “In as much as you have done it to one of the least of these, you have done it to me.”
The shepherds then returned, glorifying and praising God. May that be our theme through the entire season. Don’t be afraid; you have received good news of great joy.
O God of the angels and God of the Shepherds, open our eyes and our hearts that we may be willing to see you and receive your good news to all people. Amen!
Bishop Richard C. Looney served as interim pastor from 2016-2017 and Senior Pastor 1987-88 before election to the episcopacy.