Today is the third Sunday in Advent as we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ Child. If you are lighting the Advent Wreath, relight the first Advent candle, which was the Prophets’ candle, reminding you that the Prophets of old prepared the way by sharing the hope of a Savior to come.
Relight the second Advent candle, the Angel’s candle, the candle of love, which represents God’s motivation for coming as the Christ Child and living among us. Today, light the third candle, the shepherds’ candle. It was those ordinary folks, people who probably had very little of this world’s goods, that God chose to be the first to know of the birth of the Christ Child. Let’s listen to the story as Luke records it:
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone in to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (Luke 2:8-20 NIV)
Yes, the shepherds were the first ones to hear the Good News that the Messiah had been born, and He was in a manger in Bethlehem. They were the first ones to respond to the Good News by coming to see Jesus and worship Him. They were the first ones to tell others that the Messiah had arrived – causing great wonder by all who heard their story.
The third Advent candle is the shepherds’ candle, and it is the one pink candle. It represents the great JOY that the shepherds experienced as they heard the Good News, saw the Good News, and shared the Good News of Jesus. May it be a reminder to all of us to be full of joy this week as we both experience and share the Good News of Jesus.