Advent Devotional 2021

Along Right Pathways by Susan+

When Shepherds Watched

Photo by Emma

No Nativity set is complete without at least one shepherd and a wee lamb. Having heard the glorious angel chorus proclaiming the birth of a Saviour, the shepherds, so Luke’s gospel says, left their flocks and followed the light of a guiding star to a back shed, or cave or stable, or whatever the space really was, wherein they discovered the Holy Family. But everyone who had the night shift didn’t go to town. I wonder if it was the older ones who had the courage to take that path into Bethlehem?  Or was it the young ones, eager to see the newest thing, to take a selfie perhaps, to post on Instagram, so they could prove they had been there?   In any case the flock was not left alone without guardianship because I have no doubt that some stayed behind, being responsible in the care of their own.

The 23rd Psalm is perhaps one of the most familiar of the Hebrew psalms, even to those not within the Judeo-Christian fold. It speaks of God’s fidelity as the Shepherd who nurtures, defends and leads each member of the flock, ‘along right pathways’, even when that route is rough or takes us through the ‘valley of the shadow of death.’ It was not a coincidence that Jesus told his disciples, “I am the good shepherd.” The good shepherd provides care and protection for the flock, returns the lost sheep to the fold, and puts the well-being of the flock above everything else, even his own life. 

Those first listeners knew the 23rd Psalm and the faithfulness of which the psalms speak. “We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:2

Do we hear and heed the Shepherd’s voice?