Wednesday, June 8, 2016
God Dances Amid the Common
The sky was ordinary. An occasional gust stirred the leaves and chilled the air. The stars were diamonds sparkling on black velvet. Fleets of clouds floated in front of the moon.
It was a beautiful night – a night worth peeking out your bedroom window to admire – but not really an unusual one. Nothing to keep a person awake. An ordinary night with an ordinary sky.
The sheep were ordinary. Some fat. Some scrawny. Some with barrel bellies. Some with twig legs. Common animals. No fleece made of gold. No blue-ribbon winners. They were simply sheep – lumpy, sleeping silhouettes on a hillside.
And the shepherds. Peasants they were. Probably wearing all the clothes they owned. Smelling like sheep and looking just as woolly. They were conscientious, willing to spend the night with their flocks. But you won't find their staffs in a museum or their writings in a library. No one asked their opinion on social justice or the application of the Torah. They were nameless and simple.
An ordinary night with ordinary sheep and ordinary shepherds. And were it not for a God who loves to hook an "extra" on the front of the ordinary, the night would have gone unnoticed. The sheep and shepherds would have been forgotten.
But God dances amid the common. And that night he did a waltz.
The black sky exploded with brightness. Trees that had been shadows jumped into clarity. Sheep that had been silent became a chorus of curiosity. One minute the shepherd was dead asleep; the next he was rubbing his eyes and staring into the face of an alien.
The night was ordinary no more.
The announcement went first to the shepherds. They didn't ask God if he was sure he knew what he was doing. Had the angel gone to theologians, they would have first consulted their commentaries. Had he gone to the elite, they would have looked around to see if anyone was watching. Had he gone to the successful, they would have first looked to their calendars.
So they went to the shepherds. Men who didn't have a reputation to protect or an ax to grind or a ladder to climb. Men who didn't know enough to tell God that angels don't sing to sheep and that messiahs aren't found sleeping in a feed trough.
The angels came in the night because that is when lights are best seen and that is when they are most needed. God comes into the common for the same reason.
His most powerful tools are the simplest.
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