“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
Luke 2: 15-16
There is no specific “song of the shepherds” recorded in scripture. They were unlikely people to be inspired to use flowery words and memorable turns of phrase. Scripture says simply they looked at each other and agreed to get to Bethlehem as fast as possible and see for themselves what they had been told by God. There was no time to waste singing out praises and thanksgiving; they “went with haste.”
Witnessing an appearance of the heavenly host followed by seeing for themselves the incarnation of the living God in a manger must have been overwhelming to those who otherwise spent much time alone and in silence. They must have been simply bubbling over with everything they had heard and been shown. At least scripture does tell us the effect the shepherds’ witnessing words had on others: “and all who heard it wondered…”
I don’t think people wondered if the shepherds were embroidering the story, or had a group hallucination, or were flat out fabricating for reasons of their own. I suspect Mary and Joseph and the townspeople who heard what the shepherds had to say were flabbergasted at the passion and excitement being shared about what had just taken place. Seeing became believing and all could see how completely the shepherds believed by how enthusiastically they shared everything they knew.
We know what the shepherds had to say, minimalist conversationalists that they are. So we too should respond with wonder at what they have told us all.
We stood on the hills, Lady,
Our day’s work done,
Watching the frosted meadows
That winter had won.
The evening was calm, Lady,
The air so still,
Silence more lovely than music
Folded the hill.
There was a star, Lady,
Shone in the night,
Larger than Venus it was
And bright, so bright.
Oh, a voice from the sky, Lady,
It seemed to us then
Telling of God being born
In the world of men.
And so we have come, Lady,
Our day’s work done,
Our love, our hopes, ourselves,
We give to your son.
~Bob Chilcott – Shepherd’s Carol
The birds do not sing in these mornings. The skies
are white all day. The Canadian geese fly over
high up in the moonlight with the lonely sound
of their discontent. Going south. Now the rains
and soon the snow. The black trees are leafless,
the flowers gone. Only cabbages are left
in the bedraggled garden. Truth becomes visible,
the architecture of the soul begins to show through.
God has put off his panoply and is at home with us.
We are returned to what lay beneath the beauty.
We have resumed our lives. There is no hurry now.
We make love without rushing and find ourselves
afterward with someone we know well. Time to be
what we are getting ready to be next. This loving,
this relishing, our gladness, this being puts down
roots and comes back again year after year.
~Jack Gilbert “Half the Truth”
Time to be
what we are getting ready to be next.
Once again comes
a slowing of days and lengthening of nights;
we are being prepared for months of stillness and silence
without the rush and hurry
of madding lives.
I relish this time
peering past a vanishing beauty
to discern the Truth.
For how many years did I wander slowly
through the forest. What wonder and
glory I would have missed had I ever been
in a hurry!
~Mary Oliver from “Leaves and Blossoms Along the Way” from Felicity
God is at home, it’s we who have gone out for a walk.
Sometimes going for a walk is too much like a sprint, as far and as fast as possible.
Sometimes it is a spontaneous trek into the unknown, just to prove it can be done.
Sometimes it is a climb into the dark, with precipices and crumbling ledges under our feet.
Sometimes it is simply a journey of curiosity to see what may be around the corner.
No matter why or where or how far we wander,
or how slowly,
the path home shines just bright enough
to show us the way back to His glory
when we are ready.
He is there, waiting.
He keeps the light on for us.