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December 21, 2013

The Mystery That Is Christmas

The mystery that is Christmas is found in the story of Christmas, a story which is a story of symbols. Let’s examine the Nativity scene to see what the symbols mean.

First we have this group of shepherds who see and hear the angels bringing the wonderful news. These shepherds represent common ordinary people, then and now. They are even a little more common than usual because shepherding was usually a job given to boys who hadn’t been equipped for more important occupations. Plus many of them were probably only 9 to 15 years old. Jesus probably did His share of shepherding as a boy, even though His father was a carpenter.

Because the shepherds were very young does not mean that they were unlettered or stupid. After all, it was to them that the angels brought the Good News. Ever wonder why the angels didn’t go to a group of adults instead, perhaps the temple authorities, or scribes and Pharisees, or theologians, to people who supposedly would know what to do with this News? No, the shepherds represent Faith. They heard the message and believed it. They did the first necessary thing to be done by anyone who wants to know, and to experience the love of God first hand. They went to see!

By the way, the work of shepherding is work where the whole job has to do with faith. A shepherd has to watch the flock as though it were a bunch of kids, and he has to tend the flock as if his life depends on it, because sheep just cannot take care of themselves. I believe that because the shepherd epitomizes faithfulness Jesus saw fit to liken Himself to this lowly profession quite often. He even called Himself the Good Shepherd on many occasions.

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