November 5th 2009

Light Up The Sky

“And in that vicinity there were shepherds living [out under the open sky] in the field, watching [in shifts] over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone all about them, and they were terribly frightened.”

Luke 2:8‑9 (AMP)

Guy Fawkes’ day and the skies over Britain will light up splendidly with fiery pinwheels, comet-like rockets and fountains of sparkling stars.

Fireworks are used worldwide in celebrations such as Chinese and Western New Year’s days, Diwali festival of lights, feast days in Maltese villages, birthdays, weddings, etc. The idea is to brighten up the darkness of the night, to herald that something good has happened. 

Just over two thousand years ago there was another time when the skies were lit up in celebration. It involved something more spectacular than fireworks. 

Apparently there were some shepherds taking care of their sheep in a field. Opposite where I live there is a field with about 50 sheep in it. It is near freezing, and yet the sheep seem unperturbed by the temperature. For the past few days the crisp, cold nights have been crystal clear and you can see myriads of stars in the sky. It reminds me of the setting of this event.

Out of the blue a bright angel stood before the shepherds and enveloped them in dazzling light, and they were afraid.  The angel said, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10‑11 NIV). The shepherds were told to look for the child, and that they would find him wrapped tightly in a blanket and lying in an animal’s feeding box!  

And then it happened. The skies lit up. Above and around them shone a host of angels singing a song about peace and goodwill to men. It does not say how long the song lasted but I don’t think it was 5 minutes. Longer. Who knows? But it was impressive. Like children transfixed at a fireworks display, the shepherds watched and listened.

 When the spectacle was over and the angels had receded into the heavens, the shepherds went to check out the chief angel’s story. Sure enough in the outskirts of town in some barn they found the parents, Mary and Joseph they were called, and the baby lying in a manger. They were so excited that they told everyone they met what they had heard and seen. They could not get the wonderful events out of their minds. They “spread the word” (2:17 NIV).

 Of course the 5th November is about how Guy Fawkes was prevented from blowing up the parliament over which the first king of the united kingdoms was due to preside. It is about the fireworks that did not take place!

 Perhaps as we join in or watch the excitement, we could spare a thought for that great celebration 2000 years ago in Bethlehem. A Saviour was born for us, and the skies lit up as the angels sang and worshipped our King, Jesus, the Lord.


Great God, we worship you and thank you for Jesus, who amidst great celebration was born for our salvation. Thank you for the excitement of the shepherds and help us also to spread the Word with joy and wonder.


Study by James Henderson

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