Written by Holly Madden, LeadHer Local Director. Connect with Holly on Instagram.
“When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.” Luke 2:15-18
Secluded to the hills and valleys outside of town, the shepherds were sitting by their warm fires, watching the stars over the local town. I imagine that they kept their eyes and ears alert for sounds alerting them of any dangers that could come against their flocks. These men were isolated from society, spending days and weeks in the field as they cared for, protected, and watched over their sheep.
While these men probably heard stories of the coming Messiah, their low societal role removed them from any thought that they’d ever have a chance to worship the King.
But in the middle of the night; over the fields outside the small town of Bethlehem, Jesus was born. Suddenly surrounded by an army of heaven’s angels, it was the shepherds who received the first invitation to welcome the newborn Messiah. Abandoning their flocks, these men became the first to worship Jesus.
For many, this time of year is magical. Christmas lights, quality time with friends and family, and beautiful Christmas carols. But every year as I find a renewed sense of awe in the Spirit of Christmas, I find myself heavy hearted over each individual who experiences more loneliness and grief in Christmas than joy.
While we live in a culture that caters to those with credit cards and a Christmas shopping budget, we sometimes neglect the deeper message that Christmas is for everyone. Jesus came for the impoverished, the grieving, the heartbroken, the lonely, the forgotten, and the hopeless.
As our Father God looked down from heaven at Jesus Christ in human flesh being tenderly held in the arms of Mary, He couldn’t wait to share the good news with the people whom the world considered the least. The angels could have appeared to the whole town of Bethlehem, announcing who was taking refuge in a humble stable nearby; however, He choose to share this first invitation of worship to the lowly shepherds.
In one beautiful instant as the shepherds first laid eyes on this tiny child, the Gospel-goal for the restoration of the relationship between God and His people was set in motion. Outside of Mary and Joseph, the first individuals to share space with God incarnate was a group of men who were poor, hungry, dirty, and forgotten by the world.
Our all-knowing God knew that Jesus’ birth would take place in a town far away from home and in a stable far away from comfort. The greater purpose of the stable, the straw, and the manger was for these shepherds. The first people to witness the onset of the Gospel story are a woman, a carpenter, and a group of shepherds. It was through their faithful obedience, that God demonstrated His plan to redeem all people.
Maybe you feel forgotten. Maybe you are in a season of grief, heartbreak, or loneliness. Maybe you find yourself unemployed, or living paycheck to paycheck with no end in sight. Maybe you are fighting the barriers put on you by your gender, your race, or your social status. Maybe you are are struggling with health, infertility, a divorce, temptation, or addiction.
Jesus came for you.
He came to save you. To redeem you. To forgive you. To heal you. To adopt you. To love you. To exist in a beautiful relationship with you.
This month, our LeadHer Chapters are taking time to reflect on 2016’s theme on prayer and looking ahead to 2017’s theme on worship. We worship God because He is worthy and sovereign. We worship Him because He loved us so much that He sent His own son as an infant to this world to teach us and to save us. We worship because the tiny baby in a manger we celebrate on Christmas is the same Savior who died for our sins and rose from the dead three days later. Our worship this holiday season many not always sound like Christmas carols and silver bells, but our worship is expressed in our need.
Wherever your need is today, please know that you are not forgotten.