Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Shepherd Candle

With the lighting of the third candle, the rose-colored Shepherd Candle, Light overtakes dark on our Advent wreath. 

God is that much nearer...REJOICE!

While we tend to think of the Biblical shepherds in terms of welcome visitors at the Nativity, gentle men with sweet-faced sheep. The reality is harsher. Shepherds lived outside the city - city people were a bit wary of these men, men of the wilds, men of fierce physical strength - in fact, the Hebrews came to despise shepherds!

"That ye shall say, Thy servants' trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians." - Genesis 46-34 

This is a far cry from the honor given to shepherds like Abraham and Jacob! Shepherds, far from being honored, we actually outcasts at the time of Christ's Nativity! So it is a very special tradition that names the Shepherd Candle - the candle which, when lit, tips the balance from dark to Light on our Advent wreath.

Because we must never forget that shepherds are not just physically strong men who can endure the wilds with their flocks. Shepherds are leaders, they lead their flocks to clean water and good pasture. They are protectors, protecting their flocks from predators. They guard their sheep, and count them - they know their sheep, and they know when sheep are missing. They seek out their lost sheep, and they carry the weak. The care for the sick sheep. Sound familiar?

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