And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God.
– Luke 2:13
The night lay heavily over the fields, formless and void, just like every other night.
The man finished his patrol and returned to the small fire where the others gathered to warm up. He pulled up a piece of wood to sit on, plopped down, and stretched his legs toward the heat. By habit, he surveyed the night sky for any sign of approaching weather.
A multitude of stars danced across the heavens. The fields lay in shadows just beyond the ring of light from the flames. The soft lights of the town flickered in the darkness.
Bethlehem was louder and busier lately, filled with travelers to be counted in the census. The throbbing din of tired children, creaking carts, and eager vendors pulsed long into the evening, finally replaced by the restless sleep of a displaced city.
In the fields, there would be no rest for the shepherds. The hills surrounding Bethlehem provided prime grazing for herds of sheep raised for the Temple sacrifices held in nearby Jerusalem. The sheep could not be left untended, especially at night. The shepherds guarded them around the clock, every day of the year.
Tonight was a night like every other night.
Until the angel appeared.
There was no warning this night would be different, no hint of the momentous event about to occur. Why should tonight be any different than any other? Generations of hopeless lives played out on the same stage for thousands of years, marred by sorrow, trapped in the oppression of their own failings. They worked and played. They lived and died. Nothing ever changed.
How could they know God had chosen this night to bring heaven to earth?
How many nights have you spent watching, working, giving in to the specter of hopelessness? Do you believe tomorrow will be just another day to suffer?
I’ve been there. I’m often there. I get up every day, put one foot in front of another, and do the same thing the next day. After a while, I forget God may come into my situation at any moment, without warning, bringing our rescue.
We may choose to live without hope, but that doesn’t stop God.
He’s an invader. He lights up our sky and brings us good news of great joy when we least expect it. It arrives at the perfect moment, the one He has ordained from the beginning. And again the angels sing.
The King is here.
Deliverance is born anew.
Glory to God in the Highest!