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Photograph by Al Hammar

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night…

Luke 2:8

 

The things we add to our Christmas lists are usually physical: a new bike, the fuzziest of sweaters, a tablet, or that new miter saw. But how many of us put belonging, or invitation, or excitement on our lists? Do we pause to examine the true desires of our hearts and ask God for what only He can provide? This series, we’ve been examining the gifts God provided for the people in the Christmas story and through their needs, we’re diving deeper into knowledge of the Giver.

So what about the shepherds? What did their hearts long for? We know that shepherds were typically not the cool kids in Hebrew society. They spent spans of time out in the fields, away from the love of families or the security of community. They were generally regarded as “beneath” by the more respected members of society. They were left out. They were alone.

On that clear, quiet night in the fields, I believe the shepherds desired to be a part of a community larger than their flock of sheep. They might have longed to be welcomed into the society of which they stood on the outskirts. They might have wanted to be invited in, valued, seen.

Looking around, I recognize the desire to be known and wanted in my own heart, in the heart of my coworker who eats his turkey sandwich alone, in the heart of the foster kids I’ve known and loved, and in others. I think especially of the girl I’ve been blessed to mentor through Araminta. With her brokenness comes a fierce sense of independence that has her running from those who care for her. I wish she was able to see the truth that she belongs.

We are constantly surrounded by those who are “outside,” “beneath,” “unknown,” or “unseen.” The least of these. The modern day shepherds. And as those who search after the heart of God, our hearts’ desire should be for these.

Jesus, for Christmas this year, I ask that the “least of these” would know your heart for them. That they would see their identity of belonging in you, that they would be welcomed into warm homes and warm hearts, and that as your people, we would be willing to sacrifice our own comfort for theirs.

 

By Sarah Evalle