Shepherds, Children, and Others Who Listen

by Jonnie Sliver

Today, if you are observing Advent with the lighting of candles, you will be lighting my favorite advent candle (well, of the first four anyway): the Shepherd candle. I just love the shepherds in the Christmas story, because if anyone but God had planned this event, they probably wouldn’t have gotten a passing glance. Bethlehem , city of David , is packed to the thatched roofs with everyone who is anyone (literally), in town to register for the census. Political dignitaries, local celebrities, religious leaders great and small, manual laborers and teachers of the Law; they were all present. So why did the angels announce the best news the world will ever hear to a bunch of shepherds, out in a field?

Because God knew they would listen! He knew that these men would find the good news of great joy more important than anything they had to do.  Because He knew that they would respond; He knew they would take action! First, they went to see what the angels had told them.  When they found Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus they knew that this was not just a couple with a housing problem – this was the promised Son of God. Then they went and told everyone they knew what they had seen.

It is wonderful to be in the Miriam Home as Christmas approaches. The combination of children, Christmas trees, colored lights and special programs all add up to joy! But this Christmas, in this house, filled with these children adds up to much more than just pretty lights and goodies. Our children are a little like those shepherds – everybody who is anybody is in town, but they are just outside the city limits. They aren’t considered important by most (especially those who should truly value them – their own families), but they are precious to the One who matters the most! We, here in the Miriam Home , have the great honor of playing angels! We get to declare good news of great joy to the children God has put in our care for a short time. For many of them they are learning for the very first time, what Christmas is really all about – not fat men in red suits, but a Savior, born as a baby; God’s greatest gift! I am thrilled to see how our mini-shepherds will respond, and I am dreaming of how far they will carry the good news they receive.