Faith Column: The shepherd’s gift
Think about the shepherd’s gift for a moment. Think about what it was like to be living rough in those days. For us we are used to roughing it for a few days or maybe going camping if we want. Most of us don’t make our living at it. Even if we ranch, we aren’t out there all the time we can come to town.
For these poor shepherds there was something we don’t mention. A word not on the table but that everyone would have known. They weren’t free men. They were slaves. When they chose to leave their flocks. They were literally taking their lives in their hands. The message had come not to free men who were choosing to leave their flocks behind where they might lose the profit of a sheep if a lion or a wolf stole a lamb, but they might lose their very lives if their masters came upon the flocks untended. For it might be assumed that they ran away.
This has been the message of the good news. Always it has come to the least of these. The person on the edge the person considered the least important, the most forgotten. When the people lived in captivity in Egypt, God sent a simple shepherd to free them. When they were in captivity in Babylon, he led them back to the land of Judah. Now the message comes on angel wings to slaves in the occupied Judean hill country.
For unto you a child is born, unto you a son is given.
The message comes the same today. It comes to those who need it most of all. To those pushed to the edge of survival, to those in captivity and bondage, to those unloved, and forgotten. For you is born this day in Bethlehem, the child who is Christ the Lord.
And he comes not with power or majesty but in the poverty of spirit and brokenness that is like to the very poverty of those who need to see him most. So no matter how hard this year has been, look for the child in the manger, look to see him, find him where you need to see him. Run with the shepherds. Risk everything to find him. For you will find freedom from fear and hope in the darkest night.
Rev. Deana Armstrong is Pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ, Craig
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