Writing Off The Leash

Originally posted on WordServe Water Cooler:

11021249_10205885141785471_6207685168227967330_nToday was the first day above 32 degrees Indiana has seen in forever, so I went gallivanting with my gaggle of golden retrievers. They haven’t had a real walk since the extreme cold came around, so they were giddy. The oldest one (the darkest brown) literally skipped down the street and back. They held their noses high and curled their tails and could hardly keep from tearing themselves from their leashes and running free.

Prior to the walk I’d been at my women’s Bible Study where we talked about 1 Thessalonians 2 and how Paul, Silas and Timothy had to press on with their mission and message despite often overwhelming suffering and odds. In verse 2:2 Paul writes, “Yet our God gave us the courage to declare his Good News to you boldly, in spite of great opposition.”

While not necessarily a Paul-worthy struggle, writing novels does not come easy to me. I write, delete, and rewrite…

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it was midnight. upon that much is clear.

The shepherds were a sordid bunch.

Not much sweet singing o’er those plains, I’m bettin’.

Once revered in the time of Abraham, shepherds took quite a fall and had become a hated bunch by the time Jesus was born. Black sheep, you might say. Untrusted. Outcast. Overlooked.

Invisible.

Today, they might be the sort of person you stand in line behind at the gas station shifting your weight impatiently as they buy cigarettes for their dead end job. Or the cash register at the Big Box Store you never make eye contact with but mumble a “Merry Christmas” to as you double check your receipt to make sure you’re not charged twice for something. Or the dozens of widows and widowers, singles and childless, hospitalized and imprisoned and beat down and beat up who have no place to go on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day or any other day of the year, for that matter.

Invisible.

The sort of person with stockings overflowing and family members in assigned places and who sings Silent Night in a full sanctuary at midnight and the hot wax of the church candle drips onto their hand as they choke back a chorus of bitter.

Invisible.

The sort of person who reads this post praying–if they dare pray–for once someone won’t tell them hope comes wrapped in shiny paper or a card or a south bound airplane on December 26.

See, God, tender in His mercy, showed up for the shepherds first…

…the ones who roamed through dark nights and smelled funny and looked unkempt and carried around the crushing load of a vacant heart.

They weren’t even looking for Him.

Maybe some had sought Yahweh at one time, but they’d long since given up. They overheard somewhere that the Messiah wasn’t for folks who smelled like sheep poo…that the Messiah wasn’t for the ones who did what they could, took what they could, survived on what they could. Some of those shepherds might’ve known the Messiah Yeshua was coming, but they also knew, clear as midnight, that He was coming for the ones who hung out at the Temple, the ones who read from the Torah, the ones who had the right homes and prayed in public and tithed and washed and kept company with people who smelled good.

But God, tender in His mercy, showed up for the shepherds first.

They weren’t even looking for Him.

But God, as the shepherds struggled to keep their eyes open by counting the very stars in the very cloven skies He made, burst into their pitch black night anyway.

He knew…

…what the shepherds needed before the thought of Him–let alone the thought of asking Him for something–existed. Before they existed. Before sheep. Before tender shoots of grass for grazing. Before stars. God knew the shepherds.

And God, tender in His mercy, showed up for the shepherds first.

Why the jubilee, indeed.

*****

shepherds

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“Because of God’s tender mercy,
the morning light from heaven
is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us
to the path of peace.”
~Luke 1:78-79

Click on the album cover image below for Sara Groves’ beautiful rendition of It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. Peace on the earth, and goodwill to you, dear one.

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