This December, I look forward to returning home for a huge holiday gathering with my family. There is one event, a family tradition, I can hardly wait to experience again. I am basking in past Christmas Eve memories of grandparents, Mom and Dad, my husband and children, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, in-laws and friends of the family gathering around the Christmas tree to listen to the story of Christ's birth. The look of pure joy on many cherished faces as this story is read always warms my soul.
Anxious anticipation to renew this memory is welling up inside my heart.
In order to calm the swelling emotions of expectation, I reach for my Bible and turn to the familiar Christmas story in Luke. I savor every moment of this story, from the angel, Gabriel's, first visit with the virgin, Mary, to my favorite area of the story regarding the host of angels visiting the shepherds.
"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, 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 good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "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. (Luke 2:8-16 NIV)
God's choice to send His messengers to lowly shepherds usually fascinates me each time I hear the Christmas story. I have always associated myself with these simple men, but today I am struck with a new thought. These shepherds didn't need any faith to believe in Christ's birth. They saw a host of angels speak and sing to them of the good news.
The shepherd's common-man image is what has always drawn me to relate to them, but suddenly a stark difference is apparent. While I have continual faith of Christ's presence in my life, it is highly unlikely that God is going to allow me to be visited by a host of angels in this lifetime. I live each day through faith. Faith was never necessary for those shepherds.
As a child, my faith was nurtured while sitting Indian-style in front of a Christmas tree, listening to the Christmas story being read, and trusting that the shepherd's story was true. I believe those shepherds found Baby Jesus 'wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger' just as the story says. My faith is renewed each day as I reflect on the fact that I believe Jesus was born into this world for you and me.
So, whether you are gathering with family this year or having a more quiet Christmas, my prayer is that your faith would be freshly renewed this month as we celebrate Christ's birth.
Teresa Lee Rainey is a wife and mom who enjoys writing in her spare time. It is her desire to write for the honor of Jesus Christ and she humbly prays that those who read her writings will be able to see God's hand at work in them.