Know what I want to know?
Of all the people around Bethlehem that night (and there were lots of people, crowding in for a Caesar's census), why did the angel of the Lord announce Jesus' birth to shepherds?
God was writing this story, so it could have been a little foreshadowing of the fact that Jesus had come to be the Good Shepherd, to give his life for His people, His sheep.
It could have been a nice balance, a nice juxtaposition with the kings who came bearing gifts - the recorded visitors being the night-shift field-hands and the wise men, to show that Jesus had come to all of us, rich and poor.
It could have been one of many reasons, but the one that makes sense to this tired mama is in Luke chapter 2, verse 8: "And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night." They were there, and they were awake ... so he gave them this special treasure.
Being awake when the whole world sleeps is hard.
A few nights ago, Vava came into our room at 3am and wimped and whined and started to cry. I was so tired. I couldn't figure out what she was saying. Kachi had already made his way into our bed around 1, and I was worried Vava would wake him up, so I took her back to her room and cuddled into her bed. She finally cried out that she was too worried about bugs (we'd had a lice-letter from school, and I had checked everyone's hair carefully before bed). I asked her what would help, and she told me she wanted me to check her head again. So we tiptoed downstairs and sprayed her hair and went through it with a fine-toothed comb. It was clear.
So we tiptoed back upstairs and snuggled back into her bed. She laid her head on my shoulder and nestled into my arms and fell asleep.
There's magic in that, even when you're beyond exhausted.
There's something heartbreakingly sweet in comforting a fretting heart to sleep.
I have good sleepers, I do, but there are four of them and even if each of them only needs me twice in a week, that's eight wakeful nights out of seven :). But there are treasures on the wrong side of the clock - extra snuggles, extra conversations, extra closeness. Sometimes I don't have a chance during the day to whisper "fear not" over a particular child's secret worry, but at night - it's just us. We can whisper, snuggle down, and I can hold them close and pray with them until their fears cease and they sleep in my arms.
I love that the angel of the Lord appeared to those who were keeping watch over their flocks.
He came with good news - great joy - in the middle of the night.
If you're up in the night this Christmas, I hope you find treasures and unexpected joy there. Even if you have to break out the nit-comb at 3am ;).
"Fear not, for behold I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."
Merry Christmas, friends.