Many of us have had or do have children or employees under our watch-care. How often have we expected of them an adherence to simple rules that we did not emulate in our own lives? “Eat your vegetables,” “brush your teeth,” “finish your assignments,” “be on time,” and of course, “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all!” We laid down laws that we did not obey. We have allowed poor nutritional choices to remain in effect, we have not always spoken charitably, and we haven’t always finished the tasks we knew we set for ourselves – not even the important determinations we have made toward a vibrant spiritual life.
All of this could have been repaired long ago if we had been obedient to our own good sense and worthwhile instruction. “Drink less coffee,” “get proper sleep,” “be on time,” and “spend time alone with God.”
The third Advent candle is the Joy Candle … the Shepherds’ Candle. Jesus revealed to us that deep and abiding joy would be found in our obedience, but we must make the rules by which we live out the life of God in Christ Jesus. We know what to do, but we must make sure it gets done. We use what we have, do all that we can do, and enjoy the journey.
Those shepherds in Bethlehem were “keeping watch over their flocks by night.” David was a shepherd who made good use of his time alone, in silence, shepherd’s crook at his side and lyre in his hands. Change will take place, most of it gradually, as we take note and follow the shepherds’ example, watching, waiting, rejoicing to have the care of the flocks of God, and to have His nearness all the while. We are privileged to look for the dawn and keep watch for the morning, and above all, to seek out and see the things that have been told us by the messengers the Lord has sent.
photo, friend of Darwinek, by permission