"Then Spread my thoughts to olden times, to that first of Christmases...
When the shepherds who were watching, heard the music in the fields.
They sat and they marveled, they just could not tell...
whether it were angels, or if the bright stars were singing.
It was the singing of the angels, it was the comfort of our Lord."
Words from a poem by Robert Bridges, 1913
Some years ago on Thanksgiving night, I had been working very late in the office. I opened to door to walk home and my breath was taken away as northern lights lit up the sky. I have seen the northern lights dancing in the sky a hundred times before, but nothing compared to these. Honestly, the colors, brightness, and dancing was unmatched by anything I had ever seen in the sky in my life, even in the skies above Disney World! I stood in awe. As I watched, I was struck by the thought of the Shepherds standing in the fields of David outside of Bethlehem, on that first Christmas night. As the heavenly host of angels appeared, it could only have been one of the most awesome and magnificent sights ever to be seen on earth.
As I watched the show in the sky, my thoughts ran back to camp the previous summer and a particular chapel service that anyone who attended will never forget. God's presence came down and filled the air in way I have never experienced before in my life. All who were there were so blessed to be in God's presence. To this day people who were there still talk about that service. I have thought often about that night, why would God choose to bring down his power upon the campers and counselors as He did in that Camp Chapel?
My thoughts then went back to to the Shepherds that first Christmas, a group of people considered lowest on social totem pole, unwanted in town, poor and very much on the outside of the culture and community of the town of Bethlehem. Rabbi's looked at their undisciplined lifestyles in distain, so they where unwanted in the synagogue. History tells us that they where not even considered credible witnesses in the courts of the time, because of peoples perception of them. So why would God announce the birth of Jesus to this group of people? Why would God reach down His hand to those considered the lowest, on the outside of the community of the day?
The people we serve at Camp Daniel are so often unwanted, pushed out of town, poor, uninvited by most churches and typical culture. They are very much the shepherds of our day. My experience among people with disabilities has been that God's presence is powerful when they gather to worship Him. They often have little doubt that God is with us, because His presence is powerful, beautiful and humbling and they experience it on a regular basis.
I will never forget those northern lights in the sky, it will always remind me to be waiting amongst those with no agenda, no religon, and pure hearts. I will never forget that chapel service, as my life was changed that night in the presence of God. Oh God help us to continue to push forward, so the church can see you in a way they have not. Help us to embrace those on the outside who are blessed in their gift to be in your presence.
...Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.