Welcome to A Scarlet Cord of Hope, the 2021 advent series of University Fellowship Church Women written and read by Jaime Sherman, who penned our Christmastime narratives from biblical, Jewish, and historical sources to tell how God wove hope from creation to the creche and who continues to point us to the final fulfillment of hope in the one-day-soon second coming of Jesus Christ. Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
today’s suggested reading
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “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 Christ 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!”
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
One night sometime after 8 B.C., the year Caesar Augustus decreed the world’s population should be counted, shepherds tucked their flocks safely inside the rocky folds at Migdal Eder outside the sleepy town of Bethlehem just as their forefathers for countless generations had done night after night.
Charged with watching over the temple sacrifices pastured just south of Jerusalem, theirs was an important albeit quiet, monotonous life’s work until the night when an angel appeared to them with a loud, life-changing announcement. Their deliverer, the hope of a waiting world, had been born.
“And this shall be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger,” the messenger declared as a host of angels joined with the refrain, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace among those with whom He is pleased!”
Peace. This was the longing in their hearts and the long foretold promise. All creation had been crying out for rescue since the first bite of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden had separated mankind from God. The angel’s message pointed to a lamb being readied for sacrifice, for shepherds routinely placed newborn lambs in limestone mangers to pin them down for inspection. If found without blemish, these lambs were then wrapped tightly in cloths to keep them clean until they could be sacrificed at the temple in Jerusalem as God’s temporary plan for the atonement of sin.
Prophets had foretold that one day the Messiah would offer Himself in His sinless perfection as the ultimate sacrifice to crush the enemy and restore man’s relationship with God once and for all. So with great expectation, these shepherds left behind the sacrificial lambs to search for the Lamb of God who had always been watching over them with a plan for their good.
When the shepherds found the Promised One, Jesus, He was wrapped just as the angel had announced. As they bowed down to worship Him, we wonder if they could grasp the significance of those cloths binding their future sacrifice, or connect all the threads God had woven together since the beginning of time to tell a story of a Great Shepherd caring for His flock. They indeed knew something miraculous had happened that night.
As you read or listen to Luke 2:8-20 today, consider what it would have been like to be a shepherd that night outside Bethlehem. What would it have felt like to see the newborn Jesus and worship Him? Spend time expressing thankfulness to Him for being the Great Shepherd, the Lamb of God, who came to sacrifice His life for you.
Jaime Sherman is a writer and editor for ufcwomen.blog but most importantly a child of the King of kings, the wife of one amazing man for nearly 20 years, and mama of five girls and one boy. Learn more about her adventure in writing and enjoy some free resources on our main page for this series.