CLERGY CORNER: A Shepherd’s Story

Posted on 29 December 2016 by LeslieM

The first human beings to know about the birth of our Lord were a bunch of shepherds. This is a story about one of those shepherds, but you won’t find anything about him anywhere, because shepherds weren’t well thought of in those days. This shepherd was a young boy on the night our Lord was born. He was excited that his father let him stay up late and be with the other shepherd boys. After a while, his father called him so they could make one final check of their flock to make certain all the sheep were accounted for and none were distracted by the lights in Bethlehem. Bethlehem was a hub of activity in those days, because all who were descended from King David were there to register for the census.

After they checked their flock and settled down by their fire, a gloriously angelic being appeared to them. The boy and his father were terrified, but the angel’s words calmed them, “Fear not, I bring you tidings of great joy.” He spoke of a baby who was born that night and told them to go and see him because he was the promised Messiah. The boy turned to his father and they stood looking at each other with tears of joy streaming down their cheeks. They had heard their rabbi speak of a Messiah, but never expected to be the first to see him.

They gazed up into the night sky and one star appeared brighter than all the others. They followed that star to a stable, and saw a man with the clothes and rough hands of a carpenter. He was standing protectively at the side of a young woman who was holding a new-born baby.

Can this be what the Messiah looks like,” thought the shepherd boy. “He’s just a baby.”

After a while, the boy and his father went back to their flock, but they knew their lives would never be the same. He later found out the man’s name was Joseph and the woman’s name was Mary.

They stayed for a while in Bethlehem, but then went to Egypt to escape King Herod’s order that all young boys were to be killed by his soldiers. He feared that one of them might grow up and challenge him as “King of the Jews.”

Years later, the shepherd boy grew up and had his own flock. He heard of a prophet from Nazareth whose name was Jesus. He remembered that Joseph and Mary were from Nazareth, so he decided to go and see the prophet for himself. He found him by the Sea of Galilee and he thought to himself, “My heart is filled with the same joy and hope I felt that night in Bethlehem so many years ago. I like how he calls himself our shepherd, and how he promises to keep us from being lost and to protect us from predators.”

A couple of years later, the shepherd was in Jerusalem for the Passover with his wife and children. Jesus was there also, but he was taken prisoner by Pontius Pilate, and he was tried and scourged. The shepherd followed him through the streets of Jerusalem as he carried his cross to a hill outside of town, to a place where the Roman soldiers crucified Him. The shepherd sought out his disciples and stood with them three days later at the Resurrection. It was then that all the promises Jesus made came true.

The shepherd thought, “He wasn’t the King we expected, but he was the one we needed. And looking back on that night in Bethlehem, I realize that many people may never understand what happened. I was an eyewitness and I hardly understand myself, but this much I do understand, on that night, a bunch of lowly shepherds became sheep, and the Lamb of God became our shepherd.”

Rev. M. Tracy Smith, SSA, is the rector at St. Peter’s Anglican Church at 1416 SE 2nd Terrace in Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. Morning prayer is Wednesday at 10 a.m., Holy Communion is Thursday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m. For more information, call 954-695-0336.

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