Shepherd's FieldWe had spent the day in the town of Bethlehem, where we quickly discovered that the lyric “O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie” was far from the truth. As heaps of tourists and pilgrims made their way through busy streets filled with merchants, peddlers, souvenirs and food, the words “bustling” and “loud” seemed more appropriate.

As evening approached, we arrived at our final stop for the day, the Shepherds' Field. I immediately experienced the presence of God as he whispered in my heart words of comfort, good news and peace—timeless words that have been transforming lives through centuries: “Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11 NIRV).

It was very quiet in the Shepherds' Field as most of the tourists had left for the day. I found a place to sit and closed my eyes. I allowed my imagination transport me back in time.

It was a quiet, dark night on the hillside in Bethlehem. The sheep huddled together as they rested and the shepherds found shelter near some rocks as they settled down for the night. It had been an uneventful day in the life of these lonely shepherds. In the stillness of this dark night, the  angel of the Lord appeared and the glory of the Lord shone around them. “Do not be afraid,” the angel said. “For I bring you good news of great joy.” Suddenly there appeared a multitude of angels praising and glorifying God as they talked about peace to all mankind. Overwhelmed with excitement by this announcement, the shepherds left the field to find the Christ Child. Having found him they returned, praising God for all they had heard and seen (see Luke 2:8-20).

Who would have thought that God would reveal his plan of salvation to shepherds? Yet that is exactly what he did! What a privilege to be there in the Shepherds' Field and experience the significance of what took place on the night that Jesus was born.

In the stillness of this night, I experienced a fresh encounter with God confirming his plan of salvation for me, personally, and affirming the definite call on my life to ministry and mission as a Salvation Army officer. After 36 years of ministry, God's call on my life was fresh and convicting.

As we shared together in a time of worship, we were reminded of the fact that, as God spoke into the stillness of the night, the shepherds heard and responded. The shepherds' faith and obedience led them to find Jesus. They were never the same. They were still shepherds, but they were transformed after having had that encounter with the babe of Bethlehem. They found the courage to announce the good news, to share the joy of his birth and to offer a message of hope!

We left the Shepherds' Field with this same determination in our hearts.

Commissioner Rosalie Peddle is the territorial secretary for spiritual life development. Last fall, she and several other Salvation Army officers participated in a tour of the Holy Land.

(Photo: © Holy Land Pilgrimages)

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