I have been away from home. In the past 12 days I have: visited 5 states; watched grandkids "star" (in my world view) in Christmas plays and programs; done my post-op "Nona" duties; cooked, baked and cleaned in other people's kitchens; accomplished some Christmas shopping; discovered wonderful treasures in out-of-the-way antique stores.
One of my antique treasures was buried in a pile of early 20th century Sunday School teaching boards - a copy of a painting, "Arrival of the Shepherds" by Henri Lerolle. I had never seen it before, but it has brought new insight to my view of the manger scene.
Add to that painting the lesson for my 3rd and 4th grade Sunday School class yesterday. The lesson described the shepherds searching for the angel's "sign" - a baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
I have always pictured the shepherds going straight from the flocks to the manger... not wandering through Bethlehem in search of the one stable that held the promised Saviour. They followed the star that marked the spot (I assumed). How wrong I have been... the star is never mentioned until the Wise Men arrive - many months later.
So, with new eyes, I see the manger scene. With new understanding, I feel the wonder of the shepherds as they finally find the right stable. With greater appreciation, I notice Joseph's surprised face as he discovers rag-tag shepherds observing his family moment.
Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift...
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Luke 2:12