STATIONS OF THE NATIVITY: Shepherds And Angels, by Raymond Chapman

From Stations of the Nativity: Meditations on the Incarnation of Christ

Before the Stations

Almighty God, whose blessed Son took our human nature so that we might regain our lost innocence and be restored to the divine image that was disfigured by sin, grant that as we meditate on the mystery of his humanity we may share the glory of his divinity, who lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and forever.

Amen.


A hymn may be sung: the familiar Christmas hymns tell of the wonder of the Incarnation and the following is particularly suitable (click on hymn title to be directed to the YouTube video of its performance):

I Wonder As I Wander


7: Shepherds And Angels

V: We adore thee O Christ and we bless thee.
R: Because by thy wonderful Nativity thou hast given us new birth.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest Heaven, and on Earth peace among those whom he favors. (Luke 2:8-14)

The life of a shepherd was hard, spending much of the time outdoors in all weathers, constantly watchful for predators and for sheep who wandered away from the flock.  In the Bible the figure of the shepherd is often used as a type of those charged by God with the care of his people.  More wonderfully, it is also applied to God’s caring love, and Jesus spoke specifically of himself as the Good Shepherd.  It was shepherds who had the privilege of first being told that the Messiah was born and he would be the savior of the whole world.

We praise God for the assurance that his mercy extends to all humanity; that Christ was born to save any who would accept his pardoning love.  We give thanks for the many ways in which the good news has been made known to us and to the whole world, and for the signs of glory that are all around us if we will look with the eyes of faith.

We too often act as if true Christianity was only to be found in the church or group to which we belong.  Even when we share fellowship with others, we keep a secret sense of our own superiority.  Forgive our narrow minds, open our closed hearts to learn from different ways of expressing faith, and keep us always ready to hear the messages of divine love.

V: God sent his Son into the world.
R: To bring us to eternal life.
V: Let us bless the Lord.
R: Thanks be to God.

An ordinary night, a peaceful night offering no disturbance unless from the odd wolf, or the silly strayer that might mean a long search in the darkness when ninety-nine were behaving themselves.

They did not think they were particularly good shepherds – just men with a job to do, flocks and families to keep, quiet men, not highly regarded in the courts and cities.

The glory of the Lord was not something that concerned them: the Rabbi might have mentioned it in forgotten schooldays as appearing to Moses, Elijah, and such great ones.

It was not for them, but it came upon them, it shone, revealed, terrified, and brought words of peace, comfort, favor – little enough of them in the cold fields – and of the Messiah all hoped for, few expected, all because of a birth in a little place, not far off.

Somehow the glory, the promises, so far above them, were really for them, startled night watchers, because that child was lying in a manger born among their own kind, the simple people who would be around on an ordinary night.

Glory to God in the highest, hidden among the humble.

Glory to God in the highest, revealed to the poor and lowly.

Glory to God in the highest, come to the Earth he created.

Great shepherd, be merciful to your silly, wandering sheep.


After the Stations

Almighty God, grant to us, who have followed our Lord through the time of his coming to Earth, the peace promised by the angels, the simple trust of the shepherds, the wise discernment of the Magi, and the love of the Holy Family in our homes and in all our lives, through Jesus Christ, our Savior,

Amen.


A hymn may be sung: see above.


A priest who is present may give this blessing, or the people may say it together, saying, us, for, you.

May God give you grace to follow the example of Christ, and bring you through the power of his Incarnation to eternal life, and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always.

Amen.


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