Christmas 8: The Shepherds’ Visit

The Story of Christmas
Day 8 Reading: Luke 2:15-20

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.
– Mary Oliver

Excerpt from The Fifth Day of Christmas by Steve Garnaas Holmes
“The shepherds returned to their fields,
making known what had been told them.”

Take back to your fields
the shepherds’ wonder,
the magi’s perseverance,
Anna and Simeon’s attentiveness,
Joseph’s willingness,
Mary’s yes,
the child’s presence.

As the starlit night closes its eye behind us
the Beloved still comes into the world.
Welcome each moment
prepared to meet God in it.
Bear this wonder into this day,
and the next.

Extended quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer from
God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas

We cannot approach the manger of the Christ child in the same way we approach the cradle of another child. Rather, when we go to his manger, something happens, and we cannot leave it again unless we have been judged or redeemed. Here we must either collapse or know the mercy of God directed toward us.

What does that mean? Isn’t all of this just a way of speaking? Isn’t it just pastoral exaggeration of a pretty and pious legend? What does it mean that such things are said about the Christ child? Those who want to take it as a way of speaking will do so and continue to celebrate Advent and Christmas as before, with pagan indifference. For us it is not just a way of speaking. For that’s just it: it is God himself, the Lord and Creator of all things, who is so small here, who is hidden here in the corner, who enters into the plainness of the world, who meets us in the helplessness and defenselessness of a child, and wants to be with us. And he does this not out of playfulness or sport, because we find that so touching, but in order to show us where he is and who he is, and in order from this place to judge and devalue and dethrone all human ambition.

The throne of God in the world is not on human thrones, but in human depths, in the manger. Standing around his throne there are no flattering vassals but dark, unknown, figures who cannot get their fill of this miracle and want to live entirely by the mercy of God.

Richard Crashaw, selected verses from the Shepherd’s hymn
We saw Thee in Thy balmy nest,
Young dawn of our eternal day;
We saw Thine eyes break from the East,
And chase the trembling shades away:
We saw Thee, and we blest the sight,
We saw Thee by Thine own sweet light.

To Thee, meek Majesty, soft King
Of simple graces and sweet loves!
Each of us his lamb will bring,
Each his pair of silver doves!
At last, in fire of Thy fair eyes,
Ourselves become our own best sacrifice!

Some Children See Him by Alfred Burt
red-head-mary-jesus

Some children see Him lily white,
The baby Jesus born this night.
Some children see Him lily white,
With tresses soft and fair.
Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
The Lord of heav’n to earth come down.
Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
With dark and heavy hair.

japanese holy family

Some children see Him
almond-eyed,
This Savior whom we kneel beside.
Some children see Him
almond-eyed,
With skin of yellow hue.
Some children see Him dark as they,
Sweet Mary’s Son to whom we pray.
Some children see him dark as they,
And, ah! they love Him, too!

african madonna-and-child-by-mavruk

The children in each different place
Will see the baby Jesus’ face
Like theirs,
but bright with heavenly grace,
And filled with holy light.
O lay aside each earthly thing
And with thy heart as offering,
Come worship now the infant King.
‘Tis love that’s born tonight!

mary-jesus-india

**********
For information on The Story of Christmas Reading Plan, click here

Some Children See Him
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