In his book, The Magnificent Defeat, Frederick Buechner reflects on the shepherds’ experience of that night. He writes of the cold and the hunger and the mud. He writes of weariness and the ache of the body from the work. He writes of dozing, not entirely awake yet not asleep, and then Buechner imagines that it was
Like finally coming to – not things coming out of nowhere that had never been
there before, but things just coming into focus that had always been there. And
such things! The air wasn’t emptiness anymore. It was alive. Brightness everywhere, dipping and wheeling like a flock of birds. And what you thought was silence stopped being silent and turned into the beating of wings, thousands and thousands of them. Only not just wings, as you came to more, but voices – high, wild, like trumpets…
I’m not certain, anymore than you, how the angels appeared or when the shepherds noticed them or how it all happened. But I choose to take Luke at face value – they appeared, and glory shone, and they sang. The message they sang still echoes; its recitative still resounds in our hearts; its tune still sings in our lives. “Unto you is born this day….a Savior….Glory to God in the highest heaven….peace….” We know that song.
Wednesday night, we shall hear this story again. We shall join in their song. We shall worship this Child. It is my prayer that we will all “come to” and experience the mystery again. I look forward to sharing with you Christmas Eve as we listen for “Angel Song” (Luke 2:1-20).
Grace and peace.