That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Saviour—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
(Luke 2:8-14, New Living Translation)
It is dark out there. No-one has broken free from Earth’s gravity, in a tin box, and looked down on our planet from high above. There are no satellites, sending back images so we can all ‘look down,’ while keeping our feet firmly on the ground. But even if the shepherds could, there’d be nothing to see – not at night. We’re two thousand years shy of light pollution.
It is dark out there, beyond the throw of the fire – the fire built by the shepherds to keep themselves warm and to frighten off wolves. But here, in the circle of light, we can hold the darkness at arms length. Not ignore it, exactly – that would be foolhardy – but it doesn’t need to consume our attention. We can see enough.
And then…“Let there be light!”
I’d have to say that I’m pretty proficient when it comes to constructing coping mechanisms; I can get by, look after myself, thank you very much and if it’s all the same to you; life is comfortable enough, if I don’t look beyond my immediate circumstances.
And that is why I need God’s grace, to utterly surpass my best efforts.