Scripture Reading: Luke 2:8-16
While Simeon watched the sun go down in Jerusalem (remember the story from last week?), little Benjamin huddled close to the fire. As soon as the sun had slipped below the horizon, the wind started. It was a cold, biting wind and Benjamin quickly grabbed his cloak. His father, James, looked across the fire at Benjamin: “Getting cold, son?” he asked.
James was a rugged man. His hair was tossed and his beard tangled. And he smelled like sheep. But Benjamin didn’t notice—his dad always smelled like sheep… or did the sheep smell like his dad? “Benjamin,” his dad called again, “are you dreaming already?”
Benjamin shrugged his shoulders. “Just a little cold,” he said. His father nodded. “It looks as if it will be a cold night tonight. Why don’t you go look for more firewood? We’ll be out here until the sun comes back.”
“Ok.” Benjamin said quietly.
Have you ever been in a dark place where the wind howls and there are no electric lights? Benjamin hated the dark. There were coyotes out there, and maybe even wolves. His friend Simon, the son of another shepherd, even saw a bear one time. Benjamin did not go far, picking up dry twigs and sticks from the shrubs in the field. He wished he wasn’t so afraid all the time.
Benjamin was afraid of spiders, ants, flying bugs, and big fish. He was afraid of being in tight spaces, swimming, and being alone in the dark. But most of all Benjamin was afraid of the Romans. Big soldiers with huge swords and tall helmets. They weren’t very nice to his people, especially a shepherd’s kid like himself. One time he was taking food out to his dad in the field and a soldier took it away from him. Another time he was laughing on the road with his friends and a drunk soldier got angry and started throwing rocks at them. One of the rocks had hit him and knocked him to the ground. He touched his shoulder where the bruise still smarted.
Benjamin was pretty sure he had enough wood now—maybe one more stick. His back was to the fire, and he bent down to pick up one last big one.
But just when he was bending down, his shadow grew long, and he could see everywhere. Something bad was happening. He wanted to run to his dad. His dad always knew what to do. But if he turned around, he’d have to see what was making the light. He could hardly breathe – he turned to run. He saw two things at once. The first thing he saw was his dad on the ground covering his face, and second, a huge person in shining armor with a huge sword on his back was somehow floating in the air. Benjamin couldn’t breathe. He could feel the fear in the tips of his fingers and the bottoms of his toes. He heard his heart pounding in his ears. And just when he thought he could take a breath, a voice boomed across the field with a voice so loud he could feel it in his chest…
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths 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, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
(Lk 2:10-14 ESV)
(Lk 2:10-14 ESV)
And then, as suddenly as they had come – they were gone.
What is something you are afraid of? What is something you worry about? (fear and worry are close friends!)
What do you do when you’re scared and/or worried?
The angels brought a message and a blessing: what was the message? And what was the blessing?
The Messiah was to be the Prince of Peace. Peace from violence and evil, but also peace from fear, worry, and anxiety. What do you think our Prince of Peace wants us to do when we’re afraid?
Song: Angels We Have Heard On High