In the Christmas story in Luke, the shepherds abruptly head to Bethlehem to see this new born baby. They leave the sheep. They drop everything. They walk off the job. They clock out.
I am thinking about this sudden response. In what circumstances do we walk off the job? Drop everything? What is so important that we simply stop what we are doing and address ourselves to a new, unexpected situation?
Maybe this happens when the school calls and a child is sick and needs to be picked up. Maybe it happens when we are called from a hospital and informed that a loved one was in an accident and we are needed. Maybe we get up and leave work for a crisis or tragedy. It seems that it is even difficult these days to leave work to attend a memorial service.
All the things I think of that we would drop everything for are “bad.” An accident. A sickness. A sudden death. Some kind of catastrophe.
I am wondering when we would leave work, abruptly, suddenly, for something “good.” The shepherds in the story are told of something wonderful happening and they respond right away. They make the trek to the town of Bethlehem to see this thing which has been made known to them. When might we do something like that? What is so wonderfully compelling that we would drop everything and go? I can’t think of much. And I don’t think it happens very often.
Is it because we place too high an importance on work? We need our jobs. We need to make money. We can’t “afford” to leave abruptly and expect to come back. Is it that money, work, and a job are given too much significance? Is work running our lives instead of we running our work? Is work a tool for making a contribution and feeling worthwhile and providing for our needs? Or has work become a tyrant, and we more like indentured servants?
Again, in thinking about what we would walk off work for, is it also possible that we are not tuned in to being surprised by wonder? Is our capacity for being stunned by something wonderful diminishing? Are we so busy and so scheduled that we will only notice something remarkable on cue? Are we losing our openness to being knocked down in our tracks by something amazing?
Would “shepherds” today, say factory workers or field hands, walk off the job, risk the boss’s ire and being fired, in response to an angel chorus? Would you? Are we being offered good news that we are ignoring or not tuned in to see?
May we see the light shining this Christmas. May we hear the angel’s song. May we be caught utterly unawares.
Prayer: May we welcome the Light of the Divine and let it show us the way. Amen.
Here’s hoping that The Micah Center will be stunned by the generosity of our giving this Christmas season!