One of the most important lessons Clara must learn in The Nutcracker is to be courageous. Of course, The Nutcracker isn’t the first story in human history to impart that wisdom, nor will it be the last. Even the Bible implores us to be courageous – “don’t be afraid” (or some variation of it) shows up in Scripture’s pages more than 365 times! One such example in the nativity narrative is the story of the shepherds.
Hanging out in a field on a pitch-black night with a bunch of sheep (and sheep excrement) is the textbook definition of the worst job ever. The smart, the sophisticated, the entrepreneurial wouldn’t be caught dead in that line of work; rather, it was employment reserved for either the lowest of the low…or teenagers!
But similar to Mary’s encounter, an angel showed up out of nowhere - and these shepherds were scared sheepless! “Terrified” is the word one translation uses; “sore afraid” is the more traditional telling. Either way, it must have been a major shock.
But this patient angel waited for them to stop screaming, let them calm down, then told them the good news of Jesus’ birth and where they could find this new Messiah if they wanted to go take a peek. And just when they had finally caught their breath enough to listen, the entire sky filled with angels singing and praising God. More terrifying wonder!
And just like that, they were gone.
Back alone, out there in the dark and silence with their stinky buddies, what do think these shepherds said first? My guess is some version of, “Bruh, what was THAT?!?”
But their extraordinary encounter with the supernatural caused them to decide to do something, well, very unshepard-like. They left their flocks. In the shepherd business, that’s what you call a no-no. Shepherds who leave the sheep at night usually get fired in the morning. Leaving them and going into town was a major risk.
But for these slack-jawed shepherds, something had changed. They walked away from their livelihood to go see the child who changed their lives.
This Christmas season, allow their moxie to inspire you to take a risk too. Maybe bring a co-worker or school friend to church. Invite someone you know doesn’t have a lot of friends to your Christmas party. Get to know a homeless person and take them out to dinner. Like Clara and the shepherds, push yourself to be courageous!