That Night

Luke 2:8-20

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

Reflection

So we come to the night of the arrival of the Messiah, a moment foretold from the first instant of Creation, when the Spirit of God hovered above the darkness, ready to unleash the glory of his wonder across the heavens. The promise of God sustained through generation after generation of struggle and triumph finds its final completion in the birth of Jesus Christ, when the incomprehensible majesty of a vast creative force collides with the intimacy and fragility of our human weakness. Such love is beyond our understanding.

In the midst of a dark night on the fields, shepherds were faithfully carrying out their humble work when their world was transformed by the sudden explosion of God’s glory. Insignificant as they were, God chose these simple workers to witness a breathtaking display of his majesty, and to become part of the story of the Messiah come to earth. The “radiance of the Lord’s glory” surrounded them as an angel told them of the birth of the Saviour they’d been waiting for. And then the sky split open with the vast host of heaven’s armies praising the God of the universe.

Just like the other men and women we have read about through the history of God’s people, the shepherds honour God by simply obeying. After witnessing the truth of the angel’s declaration, they become unstoppable witnesses of the arrival of Jesus, telling everyone about what they had seen. What other response is there to the manifest presence of God’s salvation than to worship him and proclaim his glory to the world.

Prayer:

Praise God for his mercy, his wonder, his glory, his magnificence and his perfect grace. Marvel at the beauty of his greatness and then at such divine love that would bring us into the story of his redemption. O Night Divine! When Christ was born.

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