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 that will cause great joy for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, 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 heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Imagine the gravity of God’s glory pulling the shepherds to the ground in terror as His majesty tears the heavens open before them. How reassuring it would be for the angel of God to say, “Do not be afraid. I bring good news.”
Did it bring immediate relief? Or did the angel have to wait for them to get a better grasp of his words before continuing? It is a wonder that they were able to absorb any of the words at all. Here was the splendor of God before them, revealing the long awaited arrival of the Messiah, the Savior that was promised long ago. Here was the One to crush the serpent’s head and return Man to his former glory.
Imagine having this experience with few others and being unable to convey with words the reality of the situation, the experience. Nothing could suffice in trying to share the experience of God’s glory. Only desperate attempts.
For here is God, announcing with all His splendor the arrival of His one and only begotten Son. And His angel, telling the shepherds that they can find him in a dirty trough, wrapped in cloths. The Light of the world surrounded by the smell of hay and dust.
My beacon of hope, my ray of light.
You tore death asunder tonight.
And God calling out to His children, “Come to me. Receive my glory and honor. Not only will I remove your self inflicted stench of death, but I will fill you with the aroma of everything I Am.” And through generations to come, His children will continue to respond to His calling- His whisper. An endless flooding of mercy and grace will fill the valley, raising those who look to Jesus heavenward, both in Spirit and in physical countenance.
And in a similar manner to the shepherds, we run desperately to those around us wanting to share our firsthand experience of God’s glory and grace. But alas, words fall short. There is nothing we can do but love with our actions, the way that Christ has first loved us.
What else is to be said of this grand gesture? May a fraction of the true sacrifice of Christ be conveyed through a desperate search for words. This brilliant Light of the world entered so that the way to God could not only be created, but illuminated. There was once an eternal, indescribable treasure out of reach, sitting across the great divide, patiently waiting for the right time to seal the gap.
And now we have full access, anytime anywhere. There is no waiting for this life to pass so that we can arrive there. This gift is here and now, just as real and accessible as any other aspect of this life.
Paintings by Rachel Justice
Words by Brittanie Richendollar