On a night that seemed as normal as any other, shepherds were keeping watch over their sheep. The wind was calm; the only noises came from the sheep.
There did not appear to be any danger from wolves who may have wanted to attack the sheep. Suddenly a light as bright as the glory of the Lord shined on the men, and an angel appeared in front of them. The shepherds knelt down, shivering in fright.
“Do not be afraid,” said the angel, “for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” Immediately the sky was filled with angels who sang, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Then they returned to heaven.
The shepherds tried to recover from the fright they had experienced. They now felt peaceful. They knew they had seen and heard something wonderful, something miraculous. They said to one another, “Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.”
They left their fields and headed for Bethlehem, the birthplace of David, the second king of Israel. They searched everywhere in the village until they found Mary and Joseph. The child, who was Jesus, was just as the angel had said he would be. He was in a manger, a feeding trough for animals, which was being used as a crib.
Since Caesar Augustus had ordered a census, all men had to return to the places where they had been born to be counted. Joseph was a descendent of David, and he had been born in Bethlehem. By the time he got there with Mary, all of the rooms had been rented out. They had to stay with the animals. It was there that Jesus was born.
The shepherds told Mary and Joseph about the message the angel had given to them. Their story amazed everyone present. Mary promised herself silently that she would never forget this marvelous event. Then the shepherds returned to their homes. They praised God, because everything the angel said had come true.
READ MORE ABOUT IT: Luke 2
1. What did the shepherds see in the bright light?
2. What did the shepherds do as they returned home?
There were no factories when Jesus lived on the earth. Farming provided most of the food for people to eat. Instead of a tractor, oxen and bulls pulled the plows through the fields. Planting, weeding and harvesting were performed by hand.
Shepherds had to care for and feed their sheep. They had to watch out for wild animals that might try to eat some of their flocks. Sheep and goats provided wool and hair for clothing, plus milk and meat. Fishing had become an important part of the culture, especially in the Sea of Galilee.
Many trades developed, including tanning and leatherwork, pottery- making to store liquids and to keep grains dry, stone cutting, tentmaking and baking. A drought or a severe storm could ruin a year’s worth of work and cause a shortage of food.
Theodore (d. 841) and Theophanes (d. 845) were bothers who lived on the shores of the Dead Sea, ancient home of the Moabites. Both of them felt a strong calling to the faith, and they became monks at the monastery of St. Sabas while they were still young men. Their kindness and knowledge earned them a reputation as outstanding monks.
When Emperor Leo the Armenian outlawed religious images, Theodore pleaded with him not to ruin the possessions of the church. Leo banished Theodore and his brother to a cold, remote island in the Black Sea, where there was little food.
The brothers returned home after the death of Leo, but Emperor The ophilus banished them again. After Theophilus died, the war against holy images ended. Theodore and his brother were honored for their faithfulness in spite of torment.
We remember them both on Dec. 27.