This week's devotion comes, again, from Jane Rubietta's Finding the Messiah...
Peace, did you say? Peace in a country ruled by a manic king? Peace in a people who had known only separation from the Holy One because of all the manifestations of disobedience in their tribe? Peace, did you say?
How the shepherds must have drunk deeply of that word. It's used in the same way as shalom in Hebrew: peace, harmony, tranquility; safety, welfare, health; lack of strife, reconciliation in relationships. After God's people endured centuries of separation from him, the angels truly proclaimed peace? Shepherds lived in rather constant danger, likely suffering health issues from exposure to the elements year after year. The angels' song of peace must have answered a cry deep in their hearts as those notes spilled out like star showers in the night sky...
As the heavenly harmonies faded, the shepherds shook themselves from their midnight vision, blinked widely, then stared at one another for confirmation. "Did we just see this? Did this really just happen?" But not for long. Without a backward glance at their sheep, didn't they whisper in the deep, quiet holiness of the night, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about" (Luke 2:15)? There is no mention of a new shift of shepherds coming in to take over for the ones who ran off the field to worship the just-born King.
In our busy brains and our busy days and nights, how hard it is to leave our work and our worrisome lifestyles, throw caution to the wind and our sheep (jobs) to the wolves, and go to find the Christ child? How I long to answer the angels' song like those shepherds, the melodic message tugging on my heart, and me tugging on my neighbors' sleeves, and all of us hobbling off together on our work-weary bones to find this peace child. To experience the community of people on whom God's favor rests. To know that favor, that goodwill and acceptance, that blessing.
But wait. Isn't that Advent? Christ comes, and his very coming demonstrates that God's favor rests on us, and that peace, peace, peace is available to us all. Shalom. Everything we need to live whole lives, to live wholly, to live holy.
Peace. Favor. Advent. Christ comes, and off we go.