advent hope for shepherds

The night shift can sometimes seem long for shepherds keeping watch.

I’m thinking about the kind of night, either hours or years, when psalms are written in caves of fear about sadness and heartache turning to joy, struggles and battles ending in praise, lament and love hovering near.

Many of you have experienced dark nights wondering if you would make it to the morning.

Righting our own true self-awareness and need to be transformed. Fighting for the fuller spiritual life of those entrusted to our care who have run into difficulties giving birth to mature growth.  Sighting predators who care nothing for the sheep and acting prayerfully and purposefully in the Spirit to stand against harmful attacks of various sorts.

We may be tempted to fall asleep and let the journey pass us by.

But staying alert until morning light brings the realized hope of release where renewed peace may be discovered in rich pasturelands of nourishing wonder at his presence having been there all along.  We will be given a good news story to tell and re-tell in worship of the God who has come to us in the powerful hope of his love.

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Like shepherds on the grassy knolls of Bethlehem hills we encourage one another to faithfully keep watch, serving in expectant anticipation of the day of his appearing, praying he will hold us through the hours ahead to see the rays of deliverance on the horizon either here or on the other side.

He is with us through the watches of the night …

when inky scripts of hardship fill the pages of our night-time thoughts, when we are unable to see how there could ever be a brighter day, when our seemingly futile prayers disappear into the blackened vast expanse without an echo of response, at least that we can hear.

He is with us through the watches of the night …

Might he break through the mesmerizing hold of uncertainty in our situations with choirs of angels and a great cloud of witnesses singing the absolute delight of his redemptive plan?

Might he take frightened servants to the very heart of his cradle of love to see glimpses of the end of all conflict when peace will reign?

Glory to God in the highest!  A Saviour has been born!

We live in the certain hope that all will be reconciled in him.

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Swaddled in Hope

 

Born in the midst of darkness and pain

Immanuel came.

Willingly torn from existence above

God, in Christ, became one with us.

Delivered from a virgin’s womb,

destined for an empty tomb,

Yeshua lay in helpless form

swaddled in a mother’s care,

innocence cradled there

for us to behold the gentle love of God.

 

And yet,

a day of cruel scorn awaited him with harshest stares.

Stripped of comfort, human and divine,

he would exchange his perfect life for mine.

Wrapped in the darkness of hell

he waited for fresh birth pains to expel him from the earth –

And light of dawn filled the morn with resurrection news.

 

Into our dying hopes and deepest fears

he swaddles us in garments soft and clean

to enter life, to be reborn in him,

held  in his strong arms.

 

Redeemed.

 

Wiping every tear with newborn dreams

of pregnant stories waiting to be told,

how ‘God With Us’ unfolds his light and love

dispelling all the shadows of the night,

propelling us to bow before the sight of his majestic throne,

he comes, and comes, until he comes again.

 

‘Christ in us, the hope of glory, swaddle me.’

 

In the shadowed fields of our Bethlehem nights when only trickles of moonlight cast tentative hints of a brighter day yet to come, we keep watch and wait patiently for his salvation as we let him swaddle our souls in his love, securely bound to die and rise again in him.

“The shepherds returned praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.’ (Luke 2: 20)

He is with us through the watches of the night …

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