29th December: Fear, worship and wide-eyed wonder #adventbookclub

Today’s chapter examines several aspects of the shepherds’ reactions to the good news of Jesus’ birth. It is the third part of the title that I would like to concentrate on: the wide-eyed wonder. I think there is much we could learn from the shepherds about this.

I love the description at the end of today’s passage (Luke 2.13-20) of the shepherds “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen”. I imagine them on the way back to their flocks, stopping friends, acquaintances and strangers in the streets, desperate to tell them about what has happened, bursting with excitement, overflowing with the joy of the good news they had received. And I wonder how many people were changed by an encounter with the shepherds.

How often do we get really excited about telling people about Jesus? How often do we let the joy of our encounter with God overflow to those we meet? Not often, I’d guess. Perhaps it seems a bit embarrassing to be that enthusiastic, or we’re worried people will laugh at us, or it just all seems a bit unnecessary. But actually, we should be enthusiastic, we should be excited to tell people about Jesus. An encounter with the living God is awe-inspiring, life-changing and, yes, exciting, and why wouldn’t we want to share that with people?

Children are slightly better at this than adults, on the whole. Last term I was walking along the corridor of a school I visit regularly when a little boy came bouncing up to me, almost literally, obviously desperate to tell me something. “Guess what, Ruth, guess what?” “What?” “Did you know, Jesus loves everyone and even if you do something really bad, he still loves you?” Even if I hadn’t had a clue what he was talking about, I would have wanted to hear more, because he was grinning from ear to ear and hopping from foot to foot with excitement. He had just found out something amazing, just got it, and desperately wanted to share.

That little boy, like the shepherds, has something to teach us about how we communicate good news. Do we mention it tentatively, diffidently, as if unsure what reception we’ll get? Or are we so brim-full of it that we can’t keep it to ourselves. telling what we have heard and seen in ways that are compelling and real, and which glorify God?

That wide-eyed wonder of the shepherds is rare and precious. When we experience even a glimpse of it, let’s be ready to share.

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