“And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood near them….” There they were, watching over their sheep, and probably sitting by a fire talking among themselves after a day in the fields, when in the blink of an eye, their whole world was invaded by the heavenly. We’ve heard this story so many times, we can most likely recite it from memory, but how often do we allow for the time and the capacity to imagine ourselves in their shoes, or sandals, as it were?
Of course they were terrified. Me? I probably would have fainted dead away. I give them credit for still standing, even though on trembling legs. I often wonder if the angels who have been sent to bring news to men pooled their resources to get T-shirts that read, “Don’t be afraid…..I’m just the messenger.” The “Don’t be afraid” bit always seemed to be the first thing they had to say.
The shepherds were recovering, though, just in time for another surprise. “And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army of angels….” As if one were not enough, now there’s a whole army of them, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people, with whom He is pleased.” I can’t begin to imagine how thunderously loud that must have been, but at some point these men had moved from fear to excitement. Scripture doesn’t say explicitly, but it appears that they left their sheep and went straight to Bethlehem to see the child about which all of heaven was shouting. They rejoiced, too. “And the shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.” (Scriptures quoted from Luke 2:9, 13, 14, 20 NASB)
In the recording of this event, there were two “suddenly-s.” Both of which had an explosive impact on the shepherds that night. What was sudden for them had been long unfolding in the streets and halls of heaven. Now, finally, the King was born and heaven rejoiced. And, those men who were suddenly face to face with the inhabitants of heaven would never be the same. They had experienced a heavenly interruption, and they had received the best news: a Savior was born.
When was the last time heaven interrupted your life? When was the last time you were suddenly aware that heaven is real? Does the sound of heaven excite you, engage you, motivate you? As we enter the fourth week of Advent, take time to reflect on your journey from awakening, to repentance, to receiving all that He is. This once and future King still comes to you. May He suddenly make all the difference in your life.
Until next week, dearly beloved, receive His peace, His joy, His hope and His promise. Receive your King.