Advent Voices: The Shepherds

advent wreath with three lit candlesAt the end of another hectic week (and I still haven’t started my Christmas cards), here’s another one of my Advent readings. I find the shepherds to be especially poignant. I imagine them wistful, wondering what it would be like to be part of a larger community, to be “in the know”. They’re always out-of-town, out of touch, out of the loop. No one tells them anything.

Which makes it so delightfully kind of the Lord to tell them the Good News first–and let them tell everyone else.  (***If you’d like to read more about the historic shepherds and why they were such unlikely recipients of the greatest newsflash ever, check out this article at

I wrote Advent Longings because I wanted to hear the Biblical voices still waiting, those patient faithful souls waiting without any clear idea of hope being fulfilled. As we wait here in the between-time, looking for our Lord’s second coming, may their voices fill us with new hope.

Happy third Sunday of Advent!


(from Advent Longings, copyright 1997)

Our hillside fire seems feeble tonight.
Although it is a warm clear night, there is
no moon.  The flames reflect in eyes, on beards,
more like the rush lights on our hearths at home,
where women wait, weaving to ease the hours
until this shepherds’ watch is over and
we head for home again.  The vast mantle
of inky sky is no more bright or dark
than a thousand others we’ve sat under, wide
awake or dozing, ‘midst the soft and rumbling
breath of sheep, the fire’s crackle.  But
this sky presses down, pulses with promise.
What is it that unsettles us tonight?

from a painting by Robert Leinweber

from a painting by Robert Leinweber

Our daily round goes on without event–
from lambing time to shearing, we keep pace
with seasons, and the stars look on, impassive.
But tonight those cold stars seem to shimmer,
whisper “soon”…and ‘though we shepherds shrug
and shake our heads, we settle with less ease
into the folds of cloaks, and each of us
sits wakeful, and we wonder, “What comes soon?
Or who?  And will we recognize the coming?”
Like as not, out here among the beasts,
we’ll miss it altogether.  Still–as stars
become a candle-flickering haze before
our eyes–we wonder, “When?”  And hope–against
all odds–that it is soon, and we’ll be told…


9 responses to “Advent Voices: The Shepherds

  1. Lovely. I had forgotten this one. Thanks for posting.

  2. Thanks for the inspiration. It helps to calm the nerves and bring peace to one’s soul. And I really need that.

  3. Nice, Sis: and you know I’m no poetry buff…..


  4. Lovely post. Lovely song. Thank you.
    (If you write your post in ‘text’ in stead of ‘visual’ which is in the upper right corner above the post window, you can single space it and write in code, which I still can’t do.)

    • My brother clued me in: shift+enter will give you single space. I don’t have patience for learning HTML code unless I have to! Thanks!

  5. Pingback: The Great One like a Blade of Grass Bends (Reflective Verse 4 of 9 for Advent Watch ) | easylynksfilesearl1901

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