I would not have made a good shepherd. I’m afraid of the dark. I blame it on being raised in the Bronx, where light and people are your best protection. When we moved to the coast of North Carolina years ago, walking on the beach at night would cause me to panic. Pitch black darkness… and not a person nearby to hear my screams… because muggers are so prevalent on beaches in winter.
But there are gifts to be had in the darkness. The massive display of stars in the night sky is reserved only for those who are willing to leave the lights of the city behind. I wonder if the shepherds were as mesmerized by those very same stars as I am. As they keep watch over their flock by night, do they look up in wonder and awe at the beautiful handiwork of the Creator? Or do they give in to the fear of the darkness, keeping their heads low, staying on high alert for the dangers lurking around them?
Today is the shortest day of the year… and the longest night. Some churches will offer worship services on this night, particularly for those for whom life feels dark and lonely, for those whose burdens are heavy and whose hearts long for someone to prepare them room.
Many a night can be our longest night when fear or worry or life’s difficulties keep us from looking up, unable to trust in the infinite wonder of God. In the midst of our darkness, God reminds us yet again, Do not be afraid (v. 10).
What fear or worry keeps you from witnessing the glory of the Lord shining around you (v. 9)?
God, you set the multitude of stars in the sky. You’ve numbered the grains of sand on the beach and know every hair on our head. You are the one who lifts our head. Help us to look up and to see. Amen.