Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "It Came Upon The Midnight Clear"1 (Lyrics)
Luke 2:8-10 – And there were shepherds living out in the fields near by, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you news of great joy that will be for all the people." (NIV)
Mr Tumnus, our pygmy goat, which had arrived two weeks earlier, just wasn't doing well. My daughter had been spending lots of time with him down in the goat barn, but for most of the day, he wandered around forlorn and lonely, bleating in a heart-wrenching fashion.
Finally, we decided to call the goat herder and let him know of this problem. During the conversation, the herder decided to part with Lucy, Mr Tumnus' mother. As goats are herd animals, he felt that this would solve the dilemma.
A few days later, we brought Lucy home and dropped her off in the goat yard, then walked up to the secondary pen behind the house to fetch Mr. Tumnus. As we led him down toward the yard, Lucy suddenly spotted him and let out a mighty cry. Upon hearing and recognizing the truth of the moment, Mr. Tumnus responded with great joy. Once reunited, they rose, as one accord, onto their hind legs and danced round and round, butting heads and singing a goaty song of delight for the entire world to hear.
Joy does that. It fills the heart and soul and mind with a delight which bubbles up inside, then freely spills over for all to see and embrace. Such effervescent joy also filled the hearts of a handful of poor shepherds long, long ago as they tended their flock on a hillside outside the city of Bethlehem where Emmanuel, God with us, was born in a lowly manger. Upon receiving the message announcing His birth they said:
Luke 2:15b-16 – "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. (NIV)
And when they realized the truth of the moment that indeed this was what God had promised, the long-awaited Saviour of mankind, the delight of such news must surely have risen up, dancing in their hearts with such joy that it freely flowed over for all to see and embrace, for, as the Scriptures record:
Luke 2:17-18 – When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. (NIV)
Emmanuel — God with us: truth so long ago revealed to the shepherds — and truth today, right now, revealed to each and every one who dares to believe and embrace the joy of God's salvation through Jesus Christ the Lord, for whom we celebrate this season called Christmas.
Prayer: Father God, open hearts anew this season to embrace the joyful dance of eternal life with Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.