Wednesday always feels like the “watershed” day. It’s the half point of the work week and my decisions on Wednesday seem to either make the rest of the week really productive, or just set it into autopilot for Thursday and Friday. So, on Wednesdays, my goal is to give a “shout out” to something interesting I’ve come across… an article, another blog, etc. And when you come across something cool too – post it too! Maybe with a little inspiration from someone else, we’ll take Wednesday through Friday off auto-pilot and give the end of the week a little creative energy!
For this first shout-out, you might think I’m playing favorites by giving a shout out to something my mom does. But it’s not just that she’s my mom (who I love very much!) – but her quilling is amazing! Quilling is an art in which tiny strips of paper are rolled, cut and assembled to create beautiful figurines, cards and pretty much anything the artist can think of.
One of the things she’s made is a collection of ten Christmas ornaments all revolving around the names of Jesus. Each ornament comes with a short devotional to help individuals or families think more about the One whose birth we celebrate. It’s a really good way to keep your Christmas Christ-centered (and who among us doesn’t need help with that?). Below is the “shepherd” ornament and accompanying devotional.
If you’re interested in seeing more of what my mom makes, or getting this collection of ornaments in time for Christmas, you can email my mom, Sue, directly (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Take out the nativity set you have for decoration this Christmas season and bring out the shepherds that are a part of it. You need to add something to their appearance. Using a marker or – better yet, a knife to make gouges in their ceramic or plastic skin – make a few scars on their body. Deep ones on their arms and faces… maybe on their chest. Because that is most likely what those men looked like as they approached the manger of Jesus that first Christmas night.
The life of a shepherd was hard – up before dawn and asleep well after dark. In between he walked miles and miles in search of fresh water and good grazing ground for his flock, cared for injured sheep, and relentlessly counted and recounted his individual sheep making sure none had wandered off.
The life of a shepherd was also dangerous, and this is why you need to add a few scars to your nativity set. A good shepherd always confronted the danger that threatened his sheep. He fought off thieves come to steal them, he chased away lions and wolves come to eat them, and he used his own body to secure the sheep in the sheep pen at night. He put himself in harm’s way to protect his sheep from death.
When, as an adult, Jesus compared himself to the shepherds who had crowded around his makeshift bed his first night on earth – no one quite knew how powerful that comparison would be. Because just 33 years after a group of roughly scarred men came to worship at the bedside of a new baby – that child would himself earn some scars. And he would do it as those first shepherds had done – protecting his sheep.
Further Thought or Discussion Questions:
1) Who do you know among your family or friends whom you think would die to protect you? Is there anyone you love so much that you would die to protect them?
2) When you think about Jesus dying to protect you from death, like a good shepherd would do to protect his sheep, what thoughts run through your mind? What do you feel?
Thank you, Jesus, my Good Shepherd, for willingly dying to protect me from death. Thank you for the scars you have that remind me how much you love me and how much you want to take care of me. Help me to follow you and trust you.