Diocese of Hong Kong IslandDiocese of Hong Kong Island   Hong Kong Sheng Kung HuiHong Kong Sheng Kung Hui   St. John's Cathedral, Hong KongSt. John's Cathedral, Hong Kong

 

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The Shepherd’s Story
25-December-2018
Preacher: The Revd Will Newman

The Shepherd’s Story

I wonder what Christmas decorations you have in your home?
I’m sure we all have a Christmas tree, with coloured lights, and maybe a
Christmas wreath…
And maybe you also have a Nativity or Crib scene, like our stable, with figures of Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus, with an ox and ass, and the shepherds. In our Christmas Crib the Wise Men are still on their way, they have not yet arrived. But the shepherds are there, as they were in the story.

This is the Shepherd’s story.

‘It was cold that night, in the fields down in the valley. Up on top of the hill above, I could see a few lights shining in the little town of Bethlehem. I thought of the people asleep in their beds. There’s no bed for a shepherd, out in the fields with the sheep. You just have the hard ground, and a cloak to wrap yourself up.

It was cold and dark, and I was tired, so I feel asleep. Shepherds sleep lightly. We’re close to the sheep, and if anything disturbs them, a wild dog, or a wolf trying to take advantage of darkness to attack the flock and seize a lamb, the sheep will sense it and get restless and start standing up and moving away from the danger, and I’ll hear them moving and I’ll be awake in an instant, ready and on guard.

But that night it wasn’t a wolf that woke me up, it was a light coming close. I opened my eyes and looked, and saw a figure, and heard a voice saying ‘Good news! A Saviour has been born in Bethlehem, Christ the Lord. Go to Bethlehem and see!’ Who was this messenger? A person? An angel? I looked, and saw a host of bright shining lights, like all the stars of heaven shining all at once to proclaim the glory of God.

Was I awake? Was I dreaming? I left the sheep, got up, and I walked as if in a dream, up the hill and into the quiet streets. It’s not every day that a Saviour, a Messiah, the Christ is born just up the road. I had to go and find this Saviour, and see for myself.

There was just one light that I could see. As I approached I saw that it wasn’t in a house, it was in a stable. I opened the door, it wasn’t locked. And there I saw - a newborn baby. I’ve seen babies before, I have my own two lads. But this was no ordinary baby. His mother and her man were there beside him, and in a corner there was a lamp. But the light didn’t seem to come from the lamp, it seemed to be coming from the baby himself. Was it just my imagination, or was the baby really the source of light and life? I knelt down to gaze at him. I talked with the parents, told them about the shining lights and the voice I heard telling me to come here and look for the Saviour. After a while I left, and went back down the hill to the sheep. They were all still there, safe and sound.

I must have fallen asleep again, because I had a dream. This time it definitely was a dream. I dreamt that the boy grew up to be a shepherd like me, taking care of the sheep, guiding them in good ways, feeding them, guarding and protecting them. Searching for them when they were lost, caring for them and healing them when they were sick, like I do. Saving them, being a Saviour for them, defending them from evil. Maybe even risking his life for them, if he had to. Isn’t that what a Saviour would do?

People think sheep are silly, but they’re not. Sheep are like people. They have their own minds, and they don’t always do what you want or expect them to. But if they trust you, if you lead them in good, safe ways, then they will follow you.

It’s not a bad life, being a shepherd. So long as you’re a good shepherd.