Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Work of Christmas Begins

Yes, we found the child just as we had been told. I wondered then, as I do now sometimes, why this one who was to be a Savior, our Messiah, would be born in a lowly stable, laid in a feeding trough, and surrounded by animals? But as I looked at that child that night, and he looked at me, I knew in my heart the truth of the angel’s words. Truly this was Christ the Lord.

After awhile, we left them alone and made our way back to the hillside and our sheep. We all praised God for this great thing which had been made known to us, yet I found my heart strangely troubled at the same time. If indeed this was Christ the Lord, what did this mean for me? And why was I, not Herod or Caesar, called to the manger-side? What was it that I heard in my heart? What calling was there?

On the Sabbath next, I made my way to the synagogue with my family, as usual. I had told my wife and children of this miraculous event and they wondered with me of its meaning with each telling and retelling. The rabbi stood and took the scroll and read the day’s lesson, intoning the prophet Isaiah’s words slowly and solemnly, “The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples, That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple. The Lord GOD has opened My ear; And I was not disobedient, Nor did I turn back.” Then, reverently, he recovered the scroll, placed it back on the altar and turned to the congregation. “There is one,” he said to us, “even among us now, who has been witness to great things. Who has been awakened by morning and whose ear has been opened. He has been given the tongue of disciples so that he might sustain the weary one with a word. May he not turn back.” Then he looked at me and sat down. My heart burned within me, remembering that magical night and now the words of the prophet and the rabbi.

My wife clutched my arm as we left synagogue that morning. My mind was a jumble. I was just a simple shepherd. A working man. I was not learned like the rabbi. I had not been trained as a healer or counselor. I was just a man. How could I be called to be a disciple?

I made my way back to the mountainside the next evening, tending the flock, my thoughts awhirl. One of the lambs wandered off. We all grumbled about who would have to traipse along the mountainside in the dark, seeking this one who was lost. “I’ll go,” I said, grateful for some time to be alone and think, though thinking had been all I’d been up to ever since the Angel night.

I walked along the mountain trails that night, listening both for the sound of the lost lamb and God. I heard them both, at last, about the same time. As I reached down to pick up the scratched and bleeding lamb, bleating from pain, caught in brambles, God spoke. “You have seen the angels. You have seen the babe. You have beheld the light. Your witness did not end that night. It only began. You are my disciple. You are to sustain the weary with both words and deeds. You are to seek them out, just has you have this lamb.”

“Then I will leave my flock, Lord,” I asked. “I will abandon this trade and go and study and learn so that I might speak and act with the eloquence your disciples should display.”

“No,” came the thundering silence. “No. You are a disciple. You are a shepherd. You are called to both.”

Then His voice grew silent. I was left alone with my thoughts and the pitiful bleating of the wounded sheep in my arms.


Todd said...

Interesting.....loved it....
God help us in whatever current vocation we're in....

as well as disregard the voices that tell us that we need to be something other (i.e. Job/training-wise) than we are if Father is not asking this of us.

this reads like good news,


Rachel said...

Thank you for this.