Watching Our Flocks
Luke 2:8-20 And there were shepherds in the same country abiding in the field, and keeping watch by night over their flock. And an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them. Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people: for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this is the sign unto you: Ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased.
And it came to pass, when the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing that is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found both Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in the manger. And when they saw it, they made known concerning the saying which was spoken to them about this child. And all that heard it wondered at the things which were spoken unto them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these sayings, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, even as it was spoken unto them.
Vigilance in watching our flocks (thoughts) makes us receptive to the spiritual side of existence. As the shepherds in Oriental countries have a name for every sheep, which is trained to come and go at command, so we should be familiar with our thoughts, and discipline them so thoroughly that they will be obedient to us when we send forth our desire. This familiarity with our mental realm leads to an acquaintance with the character, and gives one an opportunity to strengthen the weak points and transform the undesirable tendencies. It thus clears up and harmonizes the soul so that it is receptive to divine ideas. A thought realm in constant turmoil and mortal confusion cannot possibly receive a message from the spiritual realms of consciousness. The birth of Christ in the individual is a great mystery. It cannot be explained in words. It is veiled in darkness even to those who are on its very verge; this is typified by the shepherds who were watching their flocks by night. Those to whom the mystery is revealed have to be vigilant in keeping their thoughts, or flocks, secure from the invasion of ideas that would destroy their purity, their faith, their very life. The life of a Christian’s mind is faith in the power of God to reveal himself to man. The true believers have always expected and looked for superhuman events. Yet, as explained in Scripture, when the “glory of the Lord shone round about them (the shepherds) ... they were sore afraid.” This fear is of the human in us, and we can overcome it gradually.
When the light and its accompanying vibratory forces reach a certain point, there is always a trembling of the mortal part. This, however, grows less and less as the development of the Christ in us proceeds.
The proclamation of peace on earth by the heavenly host symbolizes the calling together of a great multitude of angelic thoughts praising God and giving thanks for the great demonstration. The higher or heavenly realms of consciousness praise God for this evidence in the body (or earth) of a force that will restore peace and harmony.
“But Mary kept all these sayings, pondering them in her heart.” There should be outer affirmations of the new life, but the substantial growth is attained through quiet communion within the soul.
The message of the angels to the shepherds are those periodical outbursts of divine illumination which come to us, and we, for the time, know that something unusual is going on within, but we have our duties in life to fulfill, and we return to our flocks (duties), and glorify and praise God for all the things we have heard and seen.