…Keeping watch over their flock by night. Luke 2:8 NRSV
Somehow this gives us an image of a couple of shepherds standing around a huddle of sheep while leaning on their shepherds’ crooks. However, the shepherds slept on the job! During the daytime they were searching for good grasslands and decent water supplies while watching for straying animals and dangerous terrain. So at night the precaution of herding the sheep into an enclosure with at least one open entrance was taken. This “pen” could have been a cave, natural rock formation or other natural materials constructed by shepherds long ago or just that evening. The shepherds would have lain down across the entrance to the enclosure, forming a living gateway, and discouraging predators. In addition, these light sleepers would have a handy weapon within reach. So, the shepherds weren’t “on guard” as much as resting vigilantly.
During Advent we are told to wait and watch. Most of us have probably spent the season being extremely busy. But now that Christmas is here, we are most likely exhausted and worn out. Forget being on guard, we need our sleep! How can we live vigilantly, prepared yet resting, guarding yet recovering? Spending time such as this in God’s presence is one way.
God, we have been way too busy and now we are worn out. We are grateful for this time set aside to spend with You. We pray that this will become a regular habit in our life. Amen.
Copyright 2008 Amelia G. Sims