I have taken time this Christmas season to imagine life from the perspective of a shepherd. Not everyday life…but the amazing gift they were given with the invitation to come to the manger. They were just minding their own business, hanging out in the fields, living a fairly solitary life taking care of the sheep. Even though we picture old guys with crooks and staffs, they had to be diligent and aware at all times, on the look out for anything in search of a midnight mutton snack, definitely not wimps. Anyway, imagine yourself right now, just doing whatever it is you do, making dinner, doing laundry, helping with homework, basically just living one day to the next.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, blinding light splits the night wide open, and angels…not cute little cherubs with robes and haloes, but biblical angels, messengers of the Lord on high, fiery fearsome creatures…come with an invitation, an invitation to an event that has been prophesied about for two thousand years, but no one has really mentioned lately. It had seemed as though the party wasn’t really going to happen…God had been eerily silent for the last seven hundred years. The shepherds, in all their humdrumness, have been invited to the gala to end all galas, to see the Messiah on the night of his long-promised arrival. Do you think the shepherds worried about what to wear, how their hair looked, or the fact that they probably hadn’t bathed in some time?
The invitation we receive is maybe not quite as dramatic as angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus in the night sky, but it is a spectacular invitation all the same. We are invited to take part in the celebration that is Christ, the celebration of victory over sin and the grave. A celebration over death, to partake in the eternal promise that God promises through Christ. What are you going to do with it? Will you spend endless time worrying about what He sees when He looks at you, worried that you aren’t properly dressed for entrance into such an event, wondering why He summoned you to come?
Or will you go, just put everything on the back burner, and go? Accepting this invitation requires only one thing, and it isn’t a big house, fancy clothes, or a big bank account. It requires a believing heart. The only thing you need to accept the most important invitation of your life is a heart that believes that Jesus is the Son of God. He is not waiting for you to clean yourself up first. We can never be good enough, clean enough, rich enough, nice enough, anything enough, to gain entrance into Heaven on our own, so God sent His Son to lead us in. Like the shepherds invited the night of the first Christmas, Jesus is our Shepherd, protecting us from prey, watching over us, leading us in the direction of safety.
As this Christmas season winds down, will this be the year you don’t pack up Jesus with the Santa Clauses and the Christmas ornaments? Will you make a place for Him in your heart, accept His offer to come and dwell forever? There is no fancy dress code, no gold ticket required, just an open and believing heart.
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)