December 19, 2020

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.

Luke 2:8-10 (NLT)


One evening recently, Cyndy and I decided to surprise our daughter who was working on her computer in one of our bedrooms. We stood outside her window in the dark and lit up Cyndy’s face with a cell phone flashlight. When Melissa looked up she was suddenly frightened followed by laughter as she recognized who it was. 

In our passage, the shepherds went through a similar gut-wrenching reaction, but in their case it was sheer terror followed by unspeakable joy. Suddenly, an angelic being, big, bright and terribly beautiful appears in their company and the shekinah glory light of God himself surrounds them all! The angel says what most angels say, that they shouldn’t be afraid. Then follows an announcement that God has a good plan and it’s for everyone in the world.

Our dark world desperately needs this message of joy, this light in the night of it’s despair. It’s in a cold, dark place with fears and worries everywhere; uncertainty of the last election, the pandemic, the uncertainty of family plans this Christmas, strained relationships and general unrest — they all try to distract me from God’s message. And in this moment, the words that leap from the page for me are “don’t be afraid.” I hear God saying, “Trust me, I have a plan and it’s a good plan for you and all people.” We wouldn’t know about this story if these ordinary shepherds hadn’t told their story. They couldn’t help themselves, their lives were changed forever. We can be witnesses to what God has done for us too. 

In six days we will again celebrate that world-changing event that the shepherds witnessed that night. We will celebrate with light and laughter, and as we do, let’s remember our neighbors and bring God’s light to them as well.


— Terry Lail