Several years ago, the church I served held a summer outdoor movie series for the community. There were some nights we had to wait until almost 9pm to start the movie, when it would be dark enough. One of the tricks of the trade was to instruct the volunteers who were helping park cars to make sure the cars were faced in the direction of headlights away from the movie screen and gathering. We had learned from one occasion when a family had to leave early and nearly blinded the entire audience with their high-beams!
I’m reminded of that experience when I read Luke’s account of the shepherds:
Luke 2:8-12 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
One of the powers of light is that it invades the space it touches. It doesn’t ask permission or make pardon or fight the dark. I imagine that when the angels showed up to the shepherds in the fields, it was kind of like God putting on his high-beams, invading their time and space. It’s always fascinating to me that Luke’s version of the story shifts to this group of outcast people out in the fields, away from the chaos of urban life and distanced from political turmoil. The shepherds were, what you call “stuck.” Life wasn’t going anywhere for them. They were low on the totem pole. From an early age, they had begun to believe “this is it.”
Except it wasn’t. This night, God invaded their routine, shattered their expectations, and tore open new possibilities as he lit up night sky. They were the first to receive the good news and then tasked with carrying this message to the world. More was on the horizon.
When we least expect it, God will invade our space. He shows up in unexpected circumstances, when we are in bad moods and dealing with things and people we’d rather not deal with, when we feel “stuck” and just want a good night’s sleep. He will invade our plans for ministry, our schedule of sermons for the next year, our events and our well-thought-out ideas to reach our neighbors. His light and love may penetrate places we have hidden away from him and maybe even ourselves, revealing more than we had ever seen. He meets us where we are– in fields and stables, in our work and plan– but calls us to something more. But as he invades, he does not correct us or chide us or evaluate; we need only receive his good news, his grace, his presence.
We must stop our work and busyness and let him have his way.
Is his light pursuing you, invading your space? Have your plans and ideas been altered or frustrated?
That just may be good news.
He may be giving you a message, a task, a vision for what he wants ahead.
Will you receive from him the message he wants to share?