Good Tuesday morning! We don't usually think of the Christmas holiday as startling in any way. The surprise is reserved for presents and gift exchanges. However, the first Christmas did things a bit differently. The shepherds were abiding in the fields with their sheeps, probably not expecting anything more startling than the call of a wolf. Suddenly, perhaps instantly would be better, an angel stood before them and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. Well...yeah. I mean wouldn't you be? Did angels have another way to arrive rather than simply appearing without so much as a 'hello, mates!'? Did the angel have to say "Fear not!" while the poor shepherds were still trying to restart their heart beats and gasping for the next bit of air? Perhaps the first 'fear not' was to give the elder shepherds time to recover from fainting or maybe it was the younger sheep herders who passed out in startled fright. The glory of the Lord may have surrounded them to keep anyone from fleeing in terrified panic.
Think of it, 400 years or so since the last prophet gave the people of Israel a heads up on the coming Messiah, and angels begin appearing all over the place. Zacharias met one in the Holy Place, Mary had one come into her room, and Joseph heard from an angel in a dream. Our poor shepherds didn't get to see the messenger coming, he was just there before them. Then, just to make sure they didn't relax too much, the host of Heaven appears praising God. Yeah, I don't think the shepherds were going to sleep much that night. They caught their breath and took off for Bethlehem to see this new thing; this Christ child who came to save them (and us!) from sin.
Startled shepherds and all, the Christ child came and Heaven rejoiced. We have a merry Christmas each year to celebrate the arrival of our Lord. Praise our Heavenly Father for His Son on this Christmas season.Bucky