Prit and I attended a Christmas musical the other night. It was nice to be part of the audience and soak in the beautiful songs for a change instead of being the one to coordinate it all and play the keyboard. The songs had been carefully chosen and done with precision. Everyone knew their parts well and it was obvious that they had practiced them over and over again. Scene after scene went off without a hitch to memorized cues. Although I’ve seen it dozens of times, I never tire of the Christmas story. I love watching all the events unfold as they lead up to the climax of that simple scene where mother, father, and child are gathered together in very humble surroundings, but under the smile of Heaven. I realize that the Lord, like clockwork, brought everything to pass ”in the fullness of time” and with startling precision wove the scenes of history together to give to us what we celebrate every year at this time.
While reflecting upon the Christmas story, I felt the Lord brought a truth to light that I had never really thought about before. The group that huddled around the manger scene that first Christmas night was an interesting one, but different as different could be. They were there by special invitation under the most unusual of circumstances. In fact, supernatural signs were required to get their attention, signs that came from Heaven itself, signs that required them to look upward.
The Magi’s invitation was in the form of a star that guided them to the very spot where the newborn baby was, while the shepherds received a sudden angelic visitation. Angels burst onto the scene to proclaim the Lord’s timely birth, all the while shaking up these poor shepherds who would never, ever be the same again. The Magi were scholars who had invested their lives in purposeful study. It is a common belief that they were most likely from modern-day Iraq. They had given themselves to the study of the Old Testament and had dutifully traced the progression of time, concluding that a spectacular event was due to take place, an event in which they longed to take part. Traveling from “afar,” they made preparations for the long and arduous journey that would take them to Bethlehem.
The shepherds, on the other hand, were most likely unlearned men, capable only of tending sheep. They knew their trade, though, and they did it well. They were guarding their flock in the night season, ever watchful, since this season was the most vulnerable for sheep. Wolves were likely to be nearby, seeking a lamb to devour. Suddenly, the otherwise ordinary, dark sky lit up with the glorious appearance of God’s servants as they made their famous declaration notifying both them and the demonic powers presently ruling that a Savior had now invaded earth. Having been faithful to their own flock, they now were being led forth as God’s flock to a a nearby stable in their own hometown. They were led to hallowed ground to watch a tiny, frail baby usher in a new era.
The Magi and the shepherds represented the rich and the poor, the learned and the simple, those who slept in palaces and those who slept in fields. They, by God’s choice, were among the privileged few to gaze upon the Messiah King. One group bore costly gifts (gold, frankincense, and myrrh) while the others could only offer themselves. Coming from two extremes, they represented a wide spectrum of humanity, as wide as you and me.
“What does any of this have to do with Haiti?” you might be asking. Rehoboth Ministries exists because of the faithful giving of our many supporters. They are as varied as the Kings of the Orient and the shepherds of the field. Some are very wealthy, successful businessmen and women, while others are widows or those laid off from work. All of them, however, have a heart for God and a love for His Kingdom. Like the attendees at Christ’s birth, they responded joyfully to God’s invitation to come alongside myself and Prit, to be willing participants of what Christ is now bringing to birth in Haiti. As the kings and shepherds knelt and worshiped the Christ child, presenting to God all that they had, so our supporters have likewise offered up their gifts and prayers for us as a costly sacrifice. I would like take this opportunity to shout out a special thanks to all these wonderful people who have stood with us in this work and upheld us during some of our darkest hours.