Luke 2:8-15 And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."
The other night, I had trouble falling asleep. Around one in the morning, I sat straight up in bed, as I heard a pack of coyotes howling. I nudged my husband to wake up. The sheep were in the field right behind the house, and I wanted to be sure that they were safe. My husband went outside, flashlight in hand, to check on everyone. The llamas were laying down, though heads up and attentive. The sheep slept peacefully on the hill.
As I laid back down under my warm blanket to try to go to sleep, I began to think about the shepherds, who were keeping watch over their flocks in the book of John in the Bible. There, in the middle of the night, the angel of the Lord appeared to them telling them the good news. These shepherds did not have a comfortable, warm bed to sleep in, but rather slept out in the fields alongside of their sheep. With great attentiveness and compassion, the shepherd's job was to care for the sheep and their lambs. They protected them from predators, and lead them to green pastures and cool water, and made sure that none were lead astray from the flock. Often the youngest son of the family took over the job of tending to the sheep. Shepherds typically, were not highly thought of-yet God chose them as the first to hear about his son's birth.
On Christmas Eve, our family celebrates the birth of Christ.
On Christmas morning, our tradition has always been for the youngest child in our family to unwrap the very first gift of Christmas. On their plate, sits a tiny box with a candy cane. Inside the box, lies the baby Jesus, waiting to be placed in the creche alongside of the Joseph and Mary figures.
The candy cane, shaped in a shepherd's crook, reminds us that God chose to announce the birth of His son, to the shepherds.