Advent Devotional: Nothing Ever Happens to a Shepherd

Okay so today’s song is a new one for me.  The song comes from a musical done back by a bunch of Christian music artists and this particular song is sung by the Shepherds in the fields right before the angel appears to them announcing the birth of the Jesus.  The song is meant as a bit of comedy but also does a nice job of interpreting God’s chosen interpreters of the birth of the Christ-child.  If you prefer you ou can listen to the song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ld2lLFQ5-Eg

It’s cold out tonight in this God forsaken place,
And we’re stuck here with a thousand sheep.
While life is exciting everywhere else,
The highlight of our day is sleep.

Shepherds are notorious for making little profit.
We garner just enough for room and board.
While everyone else wallows in their wealth
We’re financially ignored.

‘Cause nothing ever happens to a shepherd
Life is boring as can be.
While exciting things occur all over the world
Nothing ever happens to me.
Nothing ever happens to me.

It’s lonely out here in this isolated job,
Our position is without esteem.
We’re socially challenged, we’re society’s scourge.
We’re not exactly every woman’s dream.

Shepherds have a humble purpose
Of our fate, few people care
Sometimes I wonder if God knows we exist
If He does, I am certain He’s forgotten where.

Nothing ever happens to a shepherd
I’m common as common can be.
While exciting things occur all over the world.

Nothing ever happens to me
Nothing ever happens to me

Shepherds are the lowest of the low,
Or lives are void of mystery.
Except for David killing Goliath
No shepherd will go down in history.

‘Cause nothing ever happens to a shepherd
I’m common as common can be
While exciting things occur all over the world
Nothing ever happens to me
No, Nothing ever happens to me.

 

As I pointed out from the start this song points out the character of shepherds in the story – their unexpected large role in the birth of the messiah.  This isn’t, of course, the first time God has chosen to fill a mighty post from someone of this particular lowly estate.  The song notes David as paving the way for shepherds to go from field hand to King.  It is great poetic device then that shepherds would become the human mouth piece of the angels in announcing the savior’s (of the Davidic line) birth.  But it also will set the stage for the nature of Jesus’ ministry.  Jesus calls fishermen, spends time with outcasts, touches the untouchable, and is willing to be associated with sinners.  Furthermore Jesus spends almost no time with people of wealth and station except the occasional encounter with priests or Pharisees, and that tax collector (who is hardly a position of honor for one of wealth).

 So what do we learn from all this?  Well the shepherds weren’t necessary.  Why go to the trouble of appearing to them and make them carry the message to the manger?  I mean if you are the angelic army on the move you might as well just go straight to Bethlehem, right?  Except… except God chooses to work wonders through that which is ordinary.  God chooses to take the “lowest of the low” and bring them into the spotlight, lift them up and make them (to quote Psalm 8) “little less than angels (though actually you can translate that as ‘little less than God’ as well).  God made the shepherds a sacrament when God took these common and ordinary people and made them divine messengers of grace, love, and salvation.

 This is an essential lesson to Advent waiting (which is why preparation is probably the better word).  If we are waiting for God to act decisively as some overwhelming divine act we are missing the point of incarnation.  We are God’s divine act.  We, “common as common can be,” are who God is working through to carry the mystery and transformation of incarnation to all people and all creation.

 Nothing in life is only “ordinary” because we know that God takes the ordinary and puts it to extra-ordinary purpose.  If we look at our life and see it as insignificant that what becomes clear is that we are missing something.  Because we are a sacrament, God is inviting us to put our ordinary in the service of God’s wonder and mystery and glory. So seeing that occur in the lives of the shepherds we then turn to find it in our lives.  Where are you singing about your insignificance when God is in the process of asking you to play a pivotal role in creation? 

 That questions reminds me of something we say to our children from time to time, “you are too creative to ever be bored.”  Being bored is choice.  Hearing and seeing that in the shepherd’s song we see ourselves in them and ask, how are we choosing to be a part of God’s incarnation this Advent? 

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About Andrew Kukla

I am the proud father of four wonderful children, loving husband to Caroline, brother to three mostly wonderful sisters, and son of two parents that gifted me with a foundation of love and freedom. I also am a Presbyterian pastor and former philosophy major with a love of too many words (written with many grammatical errors and parenthetic thoughts), Soren Kierkegaard, and reflections on living a life of discipleship that is open to all the challenges, ups and downs, brokenness and grace, of a chaotic and wonderful life founded upon the love of God for all of creation.

Posted on December 5, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I am really enjoying your Advent series. My daughter, Barbara Anderson, made me aware of them. Thanks so much for creating them. Peace, Jim Bell

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