I Used To Be A Shepherd

ShepherdAs a kid growing up, I was “po.” I’ve often said that we were not poor, since we could not even afford the “o and the r.”  We were  plain old “po.” Additionally, we grew up in a really bad house, unlike so many with whom I attended school.    By societal terms, we were not much of anything.

I was recently chatting with one of my sisters, and asked her if she could help me recall fun memories as a kid.  She said, “Are you kidding?  We were abused and poor. We have no happy memories.”   Though she said this in jest, there was more truth to the statement than either of us wanted to acknowledge.

For years, I considered myself as the bottom rung on the ladder.

There are many characters in the story of the birth of Jesus.  I love the fact that God chose to involve shepherds in the story.  In that time, shepherds were considered to be people of the lower class, a very low rung on the ladder.  These “low-class” shepherds were visited by angels, who told them of the birth of the Savior.  After that experience, they took the initiative to say, “We have to find Him.  We have to see Him. We have to meet Him.”   They started the journey towards the Savior.  After finding Him, they could not help themselves – they began to announce the Savior to everyone who would listen.  It was life-changing when they met Jesus.

As we peer into our nativity scenes, let’s not pass over the shepherds.  Let’s not lose sight that God chose those diminished by society, to be the ones who would herald the birth of Jesus Christ.  Let’s rejoice in the shepherds.   GOD visited them, and invited them to be a part of the story.

I am so incredibly thankful God included the shepherds.   I can’t identify with kings in palaces, but I can identify with those who have felt less than, those who have felt hopeless that they could ever get off the bottom rung.  A baby wrapped in swaddling clothes changed my perspective.

I once was a shepherd, but now I am a child of the most high God.   “Nuff” said!

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,  but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth.”

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.” They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. – Luke 2:8-17

Hearing the Snap, Crackle, Pop

snap2A young man had a dream to be in the music industry.  Door after door slammed in his face, but he would not give up on his dream.  Finally, after years of trying, he was offered a job at a record label.  His job was to listen to recordings and find their flaws.  He would listen for all the snaps, crackles and pops that needed to be removed.  He took the job, because at least it was foot in the door of the music industry.

The young man was at a party one night, and another guest asked where he worked.  He reported that he was employed at the well-known music label, and had been there for five years.  The guest responded, “Wow, it must be great to work there and listen to all that great music.”  The young man replied, “For five years, I have trained my ear to listen for the snaps, crackles and pops.  I never hear the music anymore. I only hear the flaws.”

In life, if we are not careful we might find ourselves in a position where we are no longer bending our ears to hear the music, but to hear the snaps, crackles and pops.

How easy it is to listen for the snaps, crackles and pops, when we have been offended, especially in Church-world.  The pastor has offended us and we no longer hear the Word, we hear the mistakes of the pastor.  A soloist hurts our feelings, and when he/she sings again, we no longer hear the powerful, beautiful lyrics, but we hear the mistakes of the singer.  Perhaps we have had a bad experience at a church, so we no longer hear that the Church is the people of God, but we envision only the bad experience.

Perhaps now all we can see and hear are the snaps, crackles and pops. What are you hearing?  Maybe it’s time to retune our hearts and ears.

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” – Philippians 4:8