And there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them. —Luke 2:8-9
21 Dec, 2020
The word ‘selah’ throughout Scripture is used as an exclamation mark at the end of a verse to help us pause and reflect on its meaning. Today, in day 21 of our Christmas devotional series we are resting on Luke 2:8-9. Selah.
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Our Farmers and Our Land
by Zoë Allington
I think how often we have gone out into the paddocks to check on sheep.
We might be keeping an eye on them during lambing; otherwise, we need to ensure that they have had water, they have enough feed, and that they are all healthy. Keeping watch over our sheep, as sheep farmers, is an everyday, normal occurrence for us, and it would have been the same for those shepherds that Christmas night.
For the shepherds keeping watch, they had one important task that night, like every other night: to protect the sheep from predators and keep them from harm.
Their livelihood depended upon it. Shepherds lived out in the fields, alongside their sheep, leading them to green pastures and water during the day. They did not have a warm, comfy bed that they slept in at night; they slept out in the open and the flock were completely dependent on them for their wellbeing and safety.
Just imagine that night. After the shepherds had checked the sheep one more time, they might have been thinking it was time to get a bit of rest for the night. Everything was quiet, the sky was dark, with just the twinkling of stars above. When suddenly, “an angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them”! Just imagine their faces, their reaction to this incredible event that they witnessed. They would not have been able to believe their eyes; in fact, later in the scripture we are told “they were terrified”.
Well, I’m not surprised!
They had just witnessed an incredible, once in a lifetime experience whilst minding their own business in a job which would have been uneventful. But the angels tell them to not be afraid and bring them this wonderful news, the knowledge that Jesus had been born: “Good news of great joy that will be for all the people”. And, unbeknown to them, what they witnessed that night laid the foundations of what Jesus was all about.
Because God chose humble, lowly shepherds to be the first to hear of Jesus’ birth.
Shepherds did not have a great reputation. They were a bit rough around the edges; they were smelly and considered to be low in status. Yet, God chose them to be given the Good News! He could have chosen any other group of people with higher standing, more money, a better reputation; but He chose them.
Throughout Jesus’ life and ministry, we see the importance of why those shepherds keeping watch over their flocks were the first to be told about His birth.
Jesus came not just for the wealthy and high in power. He lived with and ministered to normal, everyday people, people who did not have it all together. The fishermen, the tax collectors, even the prostitutes. And it was with those people that He showed the true nature of God.
For He is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-15); He cares for us and watches over us. He knows each one of us and He laid His life down for us. All we need to do is to surrender our lives over to Him and He will guide us, just as those shepherds would have done for their sheep.
Dear Lord, Just as you cared for those shepherds keeping watch over their sheep, thank you that you care so deeply for each one of us. Thank you for the gift of your son, Jesus, and thank you for the reminder that He was sent to this world for the entire world. Thank you that you are the Good Shepherd, and you came for each one of us, regardless of our standing in society, regardless of our job, or who we are. You just care about our hearts. Show us your way this Christmas, and throughout this next year and remind us to keep following you. Amen
Zoë and her husband, Travis, have two young children: Jonah, who is 7 and Oriana who is 3. Together, they live and farm in the Harvey Hills, Western Australia with their three kelpies, hens, rabbits, highland cows, pigs and of course, 2000 merino sheep. They passionately believe that all animals should be treated with the greatest respect. Allington Family Farm produces lamb which is ethical, sustainable and of premium quality, and they supply restaurants and farmers’ markets with their produce.
PHOTOS BY RACHEL CLAIRE
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At the Table Conversation Starter
How have you seen God commission different people as shepherds to do His work?
Let us remember the farmers from Australia and all the nations of the world this Christmas as we prepare our meals with compassion.
Advent Compassion Challenge
Empower a family living in poverty with the ability to support themselves! This gift supplies a source of income and nutrition for growing children. Families learn about modern farming methods and agricultural technologies suitable for their situation. This could include learning to grow sustainable food sources or animal husbandry training. Click here to be part of the answer this Christmas.
Answer Hunger With Hope
345 million people are facing acute food insecurity. You can answer hunger with hope.