In my imagination, I see one shepherd who did not go to Bethlehem that night. One shepherd stayed with the sheep while the others ran to see if the news was true. Why might this have been his choice? Why did he not go?
Consider some possibilities.
He was too tired. It had been a long week, or a long series of weeks. He did not have the time or the energy to do one more thing.
What about you? Are you simply worn from the pace and competing claims of recent days? Would it be easier to stay home and take a nap?
Or maybe he was too frightened! Too afraid of the angel? To frightened when the sky came alive with light and song? Terrified by all the sounds of joy?
Are you afraid? Afraid of what you might find if you look too closely? Are you afraid to believe the story? Or the message within the story?
Or maybe he simply felt unworthy. After all, he was a lowly shepherd. Why would God come to shepherds? Why would angels sing to shepherds? No God in God’s right mind would take a world altering message to shepherds.
Is that you at Christmas? Is that your posture? Feeling unworthy? Why would God use or speak to such a one?
Or maybe he was just plain skeptical. What he thought he saw and heard did not really happen. It was a dream, a hallucination. Angels don’t sing. The sky does not break into song. It just doesn’t happen.
Maybe that’s where you are as well. It’s a beautiful story. But it just didn’t happen. It’s not easy to believe stories about angels, stars, and such.
All of us—you and me, preachers and congregants—need to come to Christmas with eyes and hearts and everything else wide open. Take a long look. Take a good look.
This is a one-time event – unrepeatable, life-changing, life-orienting, life-lifting.
Don’t be too tired. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be down on yourself. Don’t be skeptical. “Come to Bethlehem and see Him whose birth the angels sing.”
Christmas changes everything for all time. Christmas is the best news yet!