When You Just Need to Halt the Holiday Hustle
"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." Luke 2:16-18
"Tell me about the shepherds again mommy. It is my favoritist part!" three-year-old Mitchell pleaded. It was a nightly December ritual; reading a Christmas book chosen from a basket perched underneath our tree. My mother began a tradition of giving us a nativity storybook each year. So we had many delightful volumes that illustrated the account of baby Jesus, the angels, shepherds and wise men.
Mitch’s favorite part was always the shepherds. Ever since his chubby little fingers could grasp the pasteboard pages of the books, he’d pause and quizzically stare at the portraits of these rough and tumble men wandering in the wilderness, watching over their flocks by night. In fact when the grandkids put on a Christmas pageant for Grandma and Grandpa each year, he begged to be cast as a shepherd. The director of the play, his older sister, obliged, even if one year he insisted on the shepherd making his grand entrance riding atop a John Deer tractor!
Watching my son’s fascination with these customary characters prompted me to dig further into the lessons modern day moms can learn from the shepherds. After all, mothers have so much in common with them!
That first Christmas night, these humble and socially subservient men were busy going about their daily tasks. This included feeding and watering; prodding and protecting; nursing the injured and encouraging the timid. It also meant watching out for hungry predators that might hurt or kill their precious lambs. They had no idea when they heard the heavenly chorus that their lives were about to be changed forever. They may even have found the sudden interruption that night a strange inconvenience at first. After all, sheep need constant supervision. Taking their eyes off of them for even a moment might prove to be detrimental. Little did they know they were about to encounter a Person, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger, who would better their lives for eternity and enable them to effectively shepherd as never before.
I think moms occasionally feel like modern-day, female shepherds. We certainly do our fair share of feeding, watering, prodding, protecting, nursing, encouraging and watching out for anything that might harm our own little lambs. And at times a mother’s job is also dirty, sometimes unpleasant one with very few "atta girls!" and little social recognition.
But God in His boundless wisdom is waiting to interrupt our own ordinary lives. We may not audibly hear the angelic chorus singing, but the message is still the same. Christ came to earth to seek and save the lost; to offer hope and new life for all those willing to suspend their daily duties and turn their hearts to Him. And God longs for us, like the shepherds, to tell others of the amazing story of the Holy Child.
So, in the midst of this busy week full of Christmas chores, will you stop? Put down the tinsel; discontinue the decorating; forgo the mending on the pageant costume and cease stirring the cookie batter. Turn down the yuletide carols and get completely alone and silent. It is time to halt the holiday hustle long enough to lean in and listen.
Can you hear the angels’ magnificent melody? Deep within their chorus God is calling out to us; humble, common you and me. He longs to interrupt our daily routine to introduce us to Someone extraordinary; the Christ-child who has a perfect place planned for ordinary women in His-story.
Will you pause, ponder, and then, like the shepherds, go tell others about this remarkable Babe? You’ll be helping to restate the timeless message:
"I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:10b-11, NIV).
Challenge: During this hectic time of year, carve out some time to pause and reflect on the real meaning of Christmas. Perhaps a ten-minute time out with a cup of cocoa or watching the snow fall with your kids. Or read the account of the first Christmas from Luke chapter two very slowly, letting the words and the wonder sink deep into your soul.
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