Shepherds and Angels

Today is the third day of Christmas.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.
(Luke 2:8-9 ESV)

I am a small-church kind of guy; not that I am against large churches, but rather that small expressions of Christian community are especially compelling to me: personal-sized groups of Christians strengthening each other, building each other up, sharing life together.  So, the verses above are the sort that catch my attention.  God comes to the world in a humble way, born human to a modest family, announced to a group of insignificant shepherds – all of it God breaking into the world in a small way.  That’s what I tend to notice most.

But then, I was reminded this morning of what comes next:

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:13-14 ESV)

God breaks into the world in a small way, but also comes with a multitude of angels, a heavenly army singing his praises.  A large number, a massive chorus of praise.

God comes in a small way and in a large way at the same time.  Small expressions of praise and faith and joy, and massive ones, side by side.  It occurs to me that this is another way of seeing God’s immanence and transcendence: God is personally present with his people, and more vast than the entire physical world.  God is both small and big, a baby in a manger and a King who holds everything in his hand.  And our praise of him is appropriately expressed in ways small and personal and humble, and in ways as big and vast and grand as we can possibly muster.

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