by David Nammo
I have had the opportunity to meet several famous people over the past 20 years. One of the most memorable was the time I met Bob Denver. Remember Bob? He played Gilligan on Gilligan’s Island, that old TV show. As a child, I watched Gilligan’s Island all the time. I knew the episodes by heart. I longed for the day they would finally get off the island.
So fast forward to my adult self. Here I was in a television studio meeting Bob Denver. I was shocked. I was in awe. How could Gilligan – Gilligan – be standing in front me? He belonged on the island. It was a surreal moment.
It is a similar surreal moment that has me considering Christmas this year. My trip to Israel late last year was filled with surreal moments – walking through Jerusalem, boating on the Sea of Galilee, standing on the Mount of Olives, praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, and so forth.
There were a few places that stood out to me, even more than the others – like standing on the Via Delarosa (the original road now located underneath the city). Another of those places, which surprised me to see, was Shepherds’ Field.
I know the Christmas story. I have heard it hundreds of times. I have been singing the Christmas songs since I was a child. I can’t even count the number of times I have breezed by the phrase or chorus that mentions the shepherds watching their flocks by night.
In Bethlehem, it wasn’t the Church of the Nativity (beautiful as it was) that affected me as much as the unassuming Shepherds’ Field. These days, there is a small church and a walkway overlooking the field and hills, but otherwise, there is nothing special about them. They are just fields and hills on the outskirts of town.
Over 2000 years ago, those hills probably looked similar to what they are today. Silent. Dark. Sparse vegetation. Just a place for sheep to graze. At that time, the flocks would have been sleeping. The shepherds themselves probably dozing off to sleep. Yet, an angel appeared and announced to them the fulfillment of a promise their forefathers waited to hear. An angelic chorus followed.
It must have been hard for the shepherds to believe at the time, yet they left their flocks and headed into town to see this new babe in a manger.
As I stood against the railing and gazed at the unassuming hills, I could only marvel at the majesty and planning of God. He didn’t announce this in Rome or Jerusalem. He didn’t call together the world’s great leaders. He found those half asleep, on the edge of town, to whom He announced the birth of the Messiah – the Lord.
As we celebrate the season, join me in reflecting that we are no different than those shepherds – that we have been given great tidings - and our lives should never be the same – Glory to God in the Highest!
Merry Christmas to you and all your family and friends.