My two-year old daughter Scarlett received an early Christmas present this week — her very first Nativity. We’ve enjoyed telling her the story of Jesus’ birthday and introducing her to Mary, Joseph, the three wise men and the shepherds.
It’s heart-warming to watch her play with Baby Jesus and see her imagination at work as she lines up the figurines inside the manger.
Ever the farm girl, she is particularly fond of the shepherd and his flock of sheep, cattle and donkeys. She has even lent her toy square bales from her farm set to feed the livestock and tend to the shepherd’s stock.
Last night, the whole family bundled up and headed to the barn to work on our sale bulls that we’ll be consigning at winter events this January. While in the quiet, dim barn, I was reminded of the manger in which Jesus was born, and I imagine the night of His birth was a peaceful and joyous occasion.
From the Bible in Luke 2:8-15, “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.
“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’
“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’
We know there was no room at the inn for Mary, Joseph and Jesus, and the Nativity story is a good reminder that there is always room in our hearts to help someone in need. History tells us that the shepherds were seen as lower class during Biblical times, and yet, they were one of the first to be told the great news of Jesus’ birth.
Imagine them sitting in the quiet barn — cattle peacefully chewing their cud in the darkened corners of the barn; Mary cooing to her newborn son; three wise men bringing royal gifts for Jesus; and the meager shepherds joining in as witnesses to this miraculous occasion. What a night it was indeed!
As Christmas 2016 approaches, I’m grateful to be in the same profession as the “lowly” shepherds, and I’m thankful to raise my children in this life. I hope they walk like Jesus as they grow older— offering a hand to those in need, never looking down upon anyone else and choosing kindness and honesty above all else.
I also pray my children grow up to have hearts like the shepherds — working quietly to care for the land and livestock while providing food for the world. It’s a modest profession but an important one, too. And as we celebrate the holidays over a delicious prime rib meal, I will remind my children of the reason for this season. Merry Christmas from my ranch to yours!
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.