Friday, December 01, 2017
The Face of God: A Christmas Reflection
It was a story the old shepherd loved to tell, the story of that night when the skies were ablaze with a heavenly light and an angel direct from the throne of God had announced the news for which Israel had yearned for centuries. The old man told the story well – the sudden terror, the adventure of fleeing down the mountain and searching Bethlehem for the baby in a manger, the overwhelming joy when they finally discovered the new family, and the spiritual peace that flooded their souls as they reflected on the Savior’s humble entrance into the world.
Emmanuel. God with us. The face of God that even Moses was not allowed to look upon, they had been allowed to see up close, unveiled, welcoming.
The shepherd didn’t exactly know how it would be accomplished but he believed both the angel’s message and the things that had been explained to them by Joseph and Mary. He believed this Child was the spotless Lamb of God Who would take away the sin of the world. Just think of it. Here at last was the Son of David, the long-awaited Deliverer Who would save all people who turned to him, even Gentiles, from the wages of sin. It was magnificent, a world-shattering event. And yet he, a poor shepherd of no account, was a part of this wondrous story.
It is no wonder then that the shepherd never tired of telling his story. Even as the years went on and many sufferings came upon him – Herod’s soldiers murdering his newborn son, the early death of his wife after a long illness, and his own body broken when, defending the flock from wolves, he had toppled from the cliffs of Migdal Eder -- he never tired of telling the story of that blazing night and of the world’s Savior lying in a manger.
Oh, how I wish that dear shepherd was alive tonight. How I wish I could apologize to him for my disrespect and disbelief, for my mocking the tears that welled in his blind eyes whenever he spoke of that great adventure. How I wish he could see the tears in my eyes now and the excitement in my voice as I tell him that I’m sorry for my arrogance and disdain. For this afternoon, on a grassy hillside outside Jerusalem, I met Jesus, He Who was once the child in that manger. And I accepted the invitation of Jesus to trust in Him for my salvation and be born again. In that very instant, I too knew the peace the old shepherd had discovered on that blazing night of the King’s advent.
Yes, I would love to hear the old shepherd tell his marvelous story at least once more and to laugh and thrill and weep along with him as he tells it. For then he would know that his willful, wayward son, the rebellious son for whom he so long prayed, now understands and appreciates his father’s experience of so many years ago. For today, the old shepherd’s son also saw the face of God -- up close, unveiled, and welcoming.