Luke 2:20, "The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told."
The shepherds probably talked about that night for months and months to come. They probably relived it and retold it again and again. But there came a time when it was back to life as normal. Though life was back to normal I cannot imagine they were ever "normal" again. One cannot be touched by God in this way and not be changed.
It is like Peter, James and John being led by Jesus up a high mountain. When they get to the top Jesus is transfigured. The physical guise is pulled away to reveal Jesus as he truly is. His face shines like the sun. His garments turn white as light. Surely this description is just that and therefore fails to capture the incredibleness of the actual scene. Then Moses and Elijah appear. Moses embodies the law and Elijah the prophets, the very things that testify concerning Jesus. The disciples are amazed and want to stay in this place of spiritual awakening and mystical experience. Peter says, "Lord it is good for us to be here." Then One more Witness to Jesus comes when God the Father speaks from a cloud, "This is my Son in whom I am well pleased—hear him." The disciples fall to their faces in terror. After a moment they feel the gentle touch of the Master and when they look up all is normal again. They had to go down the mountain for at the bottom there was work to do. They had to go back to life as normal. Though life went back to normal I doubt they were.
The wrapping paper has been tossed. Garbage men across the country try and lift the gargantuan pile of Christmas past. The candles have been blown out. The lights turned off. Christmas is over and we must go back down the mountain. We must return. We return to our jobs, to meetings, to stresses and our modern concerns. The kids have appointments. Bills need paying. Groceries must be bought. Laundry must be washed. On Monday morning the alarm will go off again and we will go back to life as normal. Do we go back the same? How can we.
The shepherds went back rejoicing and praising God. They returned to the same life but brought the joy of Christmas with them. There was resolutions they had made having experienced this event that must be kept. The only place they can be kept is in the mundane normalcy of day-to-day life. A poet wrote: "The test of a man's devotion will come some other day. They love God most who are at their post when the crowds have gone away." As Covett Roberts said, "Character is the ability to stay with a resolution long after the mood of the resolution has left."
The irony is that we draw closest to God in the valley than on the mountain top. Now that the Angels have left and the star has faded from the East, now is the time to draw closer to God. Now is the time to draw into a deeper relationship with Him. We read our Bibles. We devote ourselves to prayer. We fast with the desire of the coming Lord. We gather together on Sunday and praise His name. We return glorifying and praising God. We return to the normal not being altogether normal ourselves. Roll up your sleeves. There is work to be done. Now is when the work of Christmas begins:
"When the song of the Angels is silent;
When the star in the sky is gone;
When the Kings and the princes are home;
When the shepherds are again tending sheep;
When the manger is darkened and still,
The work of Christmas begins." — Howard Thurman
Prayer: Father, now is the time we get back to work, the work You have called us to, knowing and loving You in our day-to-day lives. Now is the time to draw closer to You. Now is the time to read Your word, pray in earnest and fast for change. Now is the time to draw close to Your presence. You have promised that if we seek You with all our hearts we will find You. Be found in us today, we pray, in Jesus, amen.