Joyous Shepherds and an Unplanned Christmas


“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem,  because he was of the house and lineage of David,  to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.  And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.  And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

~Luke 2: 1-7

When I think of Christmas I think of being home with my family. I think of the tree with the same ornaments we’ve hung on it since I was just a toddler, of the food my mom makes only during this time of year, and of the traditions my family has always kept: like opening up one present on Christmas Eve and waking up to the rest on Christmas morning. But since I moved to another country Christmas hasn’t looked quite like it did those first 22 years that I celebrated it.

As I read the story of the first Christmas I can’t help but notice how different it looked for Mary and Joseph too. Far from the comfort of their own home, this newly married couple was traveling to a town where they had no family to stay with and no familiar comforts to indulge in. Quite the contrary, they weren’t even able to find an inn where they could stay. Mary and Joseph had no idea where, how, or with who they would pass the very first Christmas day until the time arrived.

And yet we the readers of Luke chapter 2 can see how God was sovereignly working everything out. What seemed liked a confusing, poorly planned and even more poorly timed trip was all a part of God’s perfectly detailed plan. For God did give Mary and Joseph a place to stay. He gave them a son who would be a blessing to as all. And he even brought some Christmas company in the form of some local shepherds. Shepherds who though likely smelly and dirty came praising God and rejoicing for what he had done.

Like Mary, I find that the events of Christmas day leave me pondering many things in my heart. Guarding away the remembrances and silent gratitude as I’m reminded of the great blessings which God has bestowed upon me. He doesn’t allow my life to be the beautiful, polished, perfectly planned and social media worthy adventure I want it to be. Instead, he always sovereignly guides me to exactly where he wants me to be and then heaps blessings upon blessings into the humble places where I have been, by his grace, obedient to his guiding.

So this Christmas I am grateful for the way the Lord provides. He provided his only son, a display of love so amazing that the whole world rejoices. But I am also grateful for the ‘unplanned’ trips and joyous shepherds he provides to further show his great providence for his children whom he so deeply loves and his desire for us to rejoice together so that we may give him glory by joyfully proclaiming all that he has done. 

Merry Christmas!

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