At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises: Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on the earth who please him.
As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over, “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about the child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed. Luke 2: 13-18 MSG
Running. The sheepherders left, running. I would like to think that I would be right behind them and in such a hurry to see what the angels sang of.
Running. Can you imagine being there the day that God came down, the day that God was born a man? Can you imagine how the world changed that very moment and only a special few truly grasped the immensity of this event?
I read this version of Luke several years ago. I have always held Christmas time close to my heart, but the meaning of Advent hit me at that moment. A time of preparation for the coming of our Lord was at hand and we needed to stand attention. Running. It’s the race to finish in righteousness and the trophy belongs to the Lord.
What does this mean to me and my family? I thought of our traditions over the years. My grandmother spent hours baking cookies just right to hand to the mailman and priests at her church. She sang silly songs while I snooped around for the lost presents from previous years. I couldn’t wait for her famous Christmas Eve meal. Warm memories and happiness find my heart as I recall my childhood in preparation.
As a young, married adult I found our traditions shifted to travel. My first year of married life, we found ourselves taking a picture in front of seven different Christmas trees in a three-day span of time. Food, gifts, games, and then we started all over again. Traditions flew out the window and we just followed the trail of treats to the next house.
Having children changed everything and I found myself seeking a way out of traveling for two days because we weren’t really grasping anything of true worth in the hustle and bustle. We prepared for exhausted children and a frustrated midnight gathering of presents to place under our own tree.
A few years ago I received a new Bible for Christmas, and I found myself dreading the years that were to come. I thought that a new, bound leather book would placate my frustrations with other people’s ideas of what a holiday season looked it. We had four children and we were just tired. We needed a change, and although I put a bit of hope in reading Scripture, I was skeptical when I opened to Genesis One. Then I found something in my Bible. I found The Message version on one side with a more traditional version on the other. Suddenly, study became interesting and the Spirit provided conviction of truth.
The following fall I dove into wanting our children to understand what the birth of our Lord truly meant. They would see me get teary-eyed as I sang a few Christmas hymns a couple of months too early. They questioned why I was so moved by stories and decorations with the Christmas-theme. I knew it was time to make a change and press into them what Advent truly meant.
Traditions started to change and priorities were made all while keeping mind of spending time with loved ones. We set forth to read Scripture each day of Advent and celebrated by eating sweets, hanging a special ornament and planning days of fun to celebrate the season of light.
I have been so moved and so blessed to see my children grow in their love of Christ and to look forward to this season. We dive into Prophesy and read how it was fulfilled by Jesus. We serve others because the Lord wants us to share how his love came down. We bake treats for neighbors who may not have loved ones so we can pour hope into them. We sing worship songs throughout the day and lay under the tree at night, reflecting on how the light of the world hung on a branch so that we could be free. We prepare, we celebrate, and we live like its Christmas all year.
So we go back to the word running. The children and I are so excited for the day that we can be among our brothers and sisters, running…. running to the feet of Jesus. Until then, we will wait in our season of Advent. It may not always be twinkly lights, decorated cookies, or fa-la-las, but we will be looking towards the heavens and doing our best to grow His kingdom here on earth.
Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told! Luke 2: 19-20 MSG