I was blessed to grow up in a small town in Southern Wisconsin where every Christmas was cold, and there was usually snow on the ground. I attended church services regularly throughout the year, but the liturgy that surrounded the Advent season was always the most special. Both the churches and the public schools recognized the birth of Jesus Christ as one of the most significant events in world history. Every year it was a huge, joyful time when our Lord was celebrated through religious services, Christmas music, pageantry, and worship.
While I never had a personal relationship with the Lord like I do now, I always enjoyed the collective activities and participated in the children’s and youth choirs in public school and at church. All of my friends who lived on a farm were familiar with an agrarian culture because the dairy industry was the most relevant in our state, but I had very little first-hand experience with animals. So when I played the role of a shepherd boy in Christmas programs, I was unaware of the significance of the angelic visitation. I had no understanding of why it was so powerfully symbolic that the angel of the Lord would have such a dramatic and terrifying announcement to a few simple shepherds.
However, now that I am one of the Lord’s sheep who has learned to hear His voice, follow Him wherever He leads, and experience His uninterrupted protection and fellowship, I am aware of the metaphorical impact that took place on that night when God chose to make the profound announcement to such an honorable group of men who are eternally identified with the Great Shepherd.