Shepherds Quake at the Sight
Well, yes, of course they did! They trembled and shook, and quivered and convulsed, and they did so with such ferocious terror that they became sore (as the old King James Version put it): “they were sore afraid.”
Nothing frightens us much anymore. Oh, we worry well. And we are well-aquainted with that villain we call dread. Tumbling 401k’s that don’t seem to recover, unpleasant diagnoses, an occasional terrorist threat, or a denomination run a-muck – to be sure, these bring worry and dread. But not fear. Not really. We’re too rational, too confident, too scientific, and too callous to “shake in our boots,” or “quake at the sight” of something rare. We’ve seen it all before!
But not the shepherds. Not that night. Minding their own business, they were, and doing what ne’er-do-well shepherds always do: lounging and lolling their way through yet another night (the scriptures, in their overly-generous and gracious way, credit them with a highly unlikely “tending” of their flocks). Then there appeared to them and above them and around them and in front of them, from out of nowhere, an un-named heavenly being flapping and fluttering, floating and flittering, while something called “the glory of the Lord” with its 1,000-watt halogens (yes, it’s derived from ‘halo’) “shone” – no, blazed! – “around them.” And sore afraid were they that they quaked at the sight!
And they should have! For the God who comes as a quiet, reticent baby to salvage sinners from death requires – somewhere! – an epiphany so entirely grand that a man’s only possible response is to quake at the sight. Quickly, when barely the last “and lying in a manger” words spilled from the angel’s mouth, a whole, holy heavenly host was dispatched not to Paris, Miami, or even Vegas, but to the quiet hillsides of Bethlehem, where the poor, unsuspecting shepherds were invaded by the brilliance of salvation. Such are God’s ways. Your salvation – yes, yours – had arrived… and the ne’er-do-wells were the first to know.
And lucky for us, they hastily quaked and quickened their way to the Baby, to “make known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.”
Whatever worry, dread, or even fear we may find ourselves encountering this Christmas, the brilliance of salvation overshadows it. In the Light of Christ, the villains of darkness, dread, and death have no choice but to scatter and flee into crevices of extinction, like bugs from poison. Such is his salvation.
Silent night, holy night! Shepherds quake at the sight; Glories stream from heaven afar, Heav’nly hosts sing, Alleluia! Christ, the Savior, is born! Christ, the Savior, is born!
Reprinted with permission from the Augustana District, LCMC
Luke 2:10-11, “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”
Merry Christmas and Praise the Lord. Our Savior is born!