On the night Jesus was born there were shepherds in the field keeping watch over their flocks. Often in the darkness of night there is a settled stillness. Yes, maybe they were chatting together. But perhaps some settled stillness had come over them. We’re not told in the text. But one of the advantages of the kind of instinctual work I do day after day, and which these shepherds did, is that in the midst of much of the work there is time to reflect and think. And to be still. I can’t help but think that stillness was characteristic in both the lives of elderly Simeon and Anna who saw Jesus in the temple on the day he was circumcised.
In Psalm 46 we are told to “Cease striving”, or “Be still and know that [God] is God.” Stillness in one way or another has often been the prelude to blessing and revelation in my life. And it doesn’t have to be comfortable, in fact more often than not in my own experience it hasn’t been. Sometimes I’ve chosen this path, more often it has seemed imposed on me. It is a path of realizing our need, a path of faith in wanting to be open to God and his way. It is a time of preparation, often the emptying of our vanities, so that we can begin to take in something of the blessing in God’s gift in Jesus.
I can’t help but think that the shepherds did not have all kinds of distracting thoughts of the world bombarding their minds and senses on the night God sent angels to proclaim to them the good news of Jesus’ birth. I can’t help but think that God had been preparing them for this moment, so that they would both witness, and be witnesses that indeed the long awaited one was born. To bring peace on earth through God’s blessing and favor through him.