Category Archives: Current Events

Confusion Over Kingdom Theology

(AP/Paul M. Walsh/The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram)

In my upcoming book (The Here and Not Yet: What is Kingdom Theology and why does it matter?) I define Kingdom Theology as a way of life that acknowledges that through the person of Jesus, the new age of life broke into human history and provided humanity with a new way to live life, while also acknowledging that the rule of evil, sin and death is still actively resisting the leadership change (i.e. enacted inaugurated eschatology).

We are only six days into 2017 and already there has been two news articles written about Kingdom Theology. And unfortunately, they both miss the mark on defining Kingdom Theology.

The first article (Jan 1st at PJ Media) directly defined “Kingdom Theology” as the desire use government power to create the God’s kingdom “here on earth.” The author then proceed to tell his readers that this view was incorrect. Rather the modern Christian shouldn’t “try to force” the kingdom to come down to earth “before the right season has come.”  In doing so, the author not only reduced the kingdom of God to a political nation, but they also embraced a delayed eschatology worldview (i.e. God’s kingdom is in the future somewhere and Christians just have to wait until it comes).

The second article (Jan 3rd at Religion & Politics) talked about an “attitude shift about Kingdom theology” in which the kingdom of God changed from being a “religiously pure…and established after a period of apocalyptic upheaval to a vision of communities of mutual concern that support diverse forms of human flourishing in the here-and-now.” In other words, this article defined Kingdom Theology either as a spiritual kingdom (i.e. spiritual salvation with a future kingdom coming after the 2nd return of Jesus) or a social justice kingdom (i.e. ethics and doing good stuff).

It is because of articles like these that I wrote my book as the kingdom of God is larger and more complex than any reductionism. In the book, I talk about six different reductionism that Jesus followers fall into:

  • The kingdom becomes the church
  • The kingdom becomes a nation
  • The spiritualizing of the Kingdom
  • The kingdom becomes a doctrine
  • The kingdom is already here
  • The kingdom is all about me

While it is tempting to reduce the kingdom, we must hold on to the tension that comes with living between the ages.

The Here and Not Yet: Book Update

here and not yet bookAs it’s been a while since I’ve talked about it, I figured I own you all a quick update on my upcoming book, The Here and Not Yet: What is Kingdom Theology and why does it matter?

The publication of the book has been pushed out a bit as the Vineyard International Publishing folks asked me to shorten the length a bit. Accordingly I am currently working on editing down the material (a process made slower by having to work on school papers).

I have, thankfully, received some great feedback on the manuscript with two awesome theologians giving me suggestions to make it better (Dr. Peter Fitch @ St. Stephen University and Dr. Derek Morphew @ Vineyard Institute). A few local pastors have also written recommendations for the material. These I have posted below to whet your appetite for the book.

What I love about Josh’s book is the way he melds powerful truth with an easy reading style. This makes the theology accessible to all without losing any of the impact of what it means to live “in the now, but not yet”. Historical truth, accurate theology and practical application makes this a handbook for people who want to “do” Christianity.Kevin Thienes, Pastor of Prayer Ministries, Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Boise.

Josh’s The Here and Not Yet is an absolutely outstanding work on the theology of the kingdom and corresponding practices. Not only does he lay the necessary biblical-theological framework, Josh demonstrates how the kingdom applies in every area of life. I highly recommend this to fellow pastors and churches alike!Luke T. Geraty, Lead Pastor of Trinity Christian Fellowship, member of the Society of Vineyard Scholars and the Society for Pentecostal Studies

Thanks to everyone who has helped with the project. While it is taking longer than anticipated to publish, I’m am confident that the final product will be better off than if I was to try to publish it on my own. Step by step, little by little…. =)

The Real War Against America

the real war against americaI have been working in the brand protection industry for almost 12-years now. Over that time, I have worked with multiple large, medium and small companies around the world to protect their intellectual-property rights (IPR). During the same time period I have seen an explosive of counterfeit goods being sold online – including on Amazon and other online marketplaces.

Most people, however, don’t think twice about IPRs. Counterfeiting is a distance thought buried deep in the cobwebs of our minds. If the concept does pop up, folks usually dismiss the thought with a quick “it doesn’t matter” shrug.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

“Few crime problems are as wicked as product counterfeiting. Far from a victimless crime, virtually everyone is touched by it in some way. It affects consumer health and safety, reduces brand-owner profit and innovativeness, diminishes tax revenue while increasing prevention and enforcement costs, fuels organized crime and terrorism, undermines national security, and results in loss of jobs.” – Jeremy M. Wilson, Ph.D., Director, Center for Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection, “Brand Protection 2020”  paper published by Michigan State University in September 2015 (emphasis added)

“There is a long history of authorities only responding to calls for increased enforcement of IPRs if the products are dangerous. ‘You can’t die from buying a fake T-shirt or downloading an unauthorized album,’ they say. Well, yes, you can, actually—if the profits finance terrorism or organized crime like drugs, vice, and illegal arms.” – John Anderson, Chairman, Global Anti-Counterfeiting Network, IPR Enforcement Strategy and Communications Consultant, quoted by Jeremy M. Wilson in his “Brand Protection 2020” paper (emphasis added)

Counterfeiting and IRP crimes do matter. I also know that the best way to influence people is through stories. We humans are wired for a narrative understanding of life – this is why movies, books, theaters and the like are so important to a society.

To help you all understand this importance of IPR crime, I would like to recommend the Brett Kingstone’s book “The Real War Against America.” Written by the former CEO and founder of Super Vision International, this book tells the story of a company fighting to protect itself from a counterfeiter who set out to destroy them. Full of emotions, this book puts a human face on the effects of counterfeiting and its impact on real people.

The book is also fun to read with international scandal, betrayal, undercover private investigators, legal drama and more. I definitely recommend everyone reading it as we in America have a huge problem. Intellectual-property is being stolen daily from all sectors of manufacturing – causing companies to go bankrupt and employees to lose their jobs.

In other words – Don’t knowingly buy counterfeit goods and be very careful of where you buy from if you shop online. Better yet, walk into a brick and mortar store and buy something – especially if you are buying electronics, pharmaceutical medication, or luxury goods.

Who Responds to Escort Ads?

forthesilentThe sexual exploitation awareness organization For The Silent recently placed two escort ads online for a medium sized city in Texas to see who would respond. During the two weeks that the ad ran, 950 men responded: “pastors, therapists, fire fighters, doctors, real estate agents-people’s fathers, husbands, and brothers.”

Taking into account the demographics of the city, it means approximately 2 out of every 100 men in the city responded to that ad, if that’s how many men would go out with an escort I wonder just how many men out of 100 would watch an adult movie online via websites like watchmygirlfriend.xxx. For The Silent’s newsletter mentions that their study “broke apart friendships and caused uncomfortable exposure” hinting at the fact that some of their employees knew some of the folks who responded to the ad.

Now to change things up, think about your town. What is happening there?

I know we like to think that our communities are different and this type of thing only happens to “those” communities. The harsh reality is that sexual exploitation of women, children and even men is everywhere. Even if it is consensual exploitation on sites like https://www.tubev.sex/, which blatantly shows such sin online. We, the people of Jesus, need to stop hiding our heads in the sand and start speaking up against this issue.

We also need to stop talking about simply getting ‘saved.’ While our eternal destination is important, it is only part of the Good News of Jesus. We humans are in desperate need of help and a Rescuer who not only will save our souls – but who will free us from the bondage of our own brokenness and show us a new way of living. Religion and knowledge about God will not help; rather we need a personal encounter with the Living God who will radically set us free – and note that this does not mean a one-time event. Rather it is an ongoing process were we constantly seek after Him and allow Him to change our hearts and actions.

So what can we do?

We can start by having an honest look at our own lives. If we are actively participating in the sexual exploitation of others, either by hiring prostitutes or viewing porn on sites such as www.maturepornvideos.xxx, we are part of the problem. If we know of people who are engaged in the active exploitation of others through trafficking, selling, controlling, etc – we need to contact the proper authorities right away.

If you are someone caught in this industry and want out, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (1-888-373-7888) or a similar agency in your local area (like For The Silent).

If are someone who wants to help, contact an awareness group in your area and see what you can do. For those in the Vineyard (or friends of the Vineyard), you can also contact the Vineyard Justice Network or sign up for I-61 Ministries’ Love Justice School to learn more about how to help fight this injustice.

This is a fight that needs all hands on deck. Please allow God to cleanses your heart and break the chains that bind you so that you can help others find freedom, both figuratively and literally.

Come Holy Spirit come.

Peace From The Middle East

Carl Medearis is one of the foremost peacemakers of today as well as the author of two awesome books that greatly influenced my life (Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism and Muslims, Christians, and Jesus: Gaining Understanding and Building Relationships). In the below video, Carl talks about what it means to bring peace to the Middle East by focusing on the Peacemaker Himself.

Carl Medearis will be teaching alongside Rick Love at the online Modern Middle East Studies program through William Jessup University, starting in March. Carl Medearis will be teaching about Jesus in the Muslim Context, and Rick Love will be teaching a course on Muslim-Christian-Jewish Relations. The program is online and open to students anywhere in the world.

Celebrating Christmas, the Invasion of History by the Creator God

advent candleToday we are celebrating Christmas, the invasion of human history by the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Over this last month we have celebrated the Advent – the time in which the church celebrated both the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent.  It is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God.  That is a process in which we now participate, and the consummation of which we anticipate.

In this double focus on past and future, Advent symbolizes the spiritual journey of individuals and a community of Jesus followers. We affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again. This acknowledgment provides a basis for Kingdom ethics, for holy living arising from a profound sense that we live “between the times” and are called to be faithful stewards of what is entrusted to us as God’s people.

So, as the church celebrates God’s in-breaking into history in the Incarnation, and anticipates a future consummation to that history for which “all creation is groaning awaiting its redemption,” it also confesses its own responsibility as a people commissioned to “love the Lord your God with all your heart” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.” It is like Franciscan Father Richard Rohr once said:

“We [believe] that the Incarnation was already the Redemption, because in Jesus’ birth God was already saying that it was good to be human, and God was on our side.”

Candles

About two hundred years ago the church began the tradition of lighting candles each Sunday of the advent.  Each of the candle represent a part of our awaiting for Jesus:

  • Hope
  • Peace
  • Joy
  • Love
  • The white, and last candle, is the Christ candle

Hope

Hope-candleHope is a powerful concept. It is a desire for a certain thing to happen…waiting, patience….hoping….trusting in something you can’t see or yet experience.  Hope can keep you going even when things are tough.

There is a yearning for deliverance from the evils of the world, first expressed by Israelite slaves in Egypt as they cried out from their bitter oppression.  It is the cry of those who have experienced the tyranny of injustice in a world under the curse of sin, and yet who have hope of deliverance by a God who has heard the cries of oppressed slaves and brought deliverance!

It is that hope, however faint at times, and that God, however distant He sometimes seems, which brings to the world the anticipation of a King who will rule with truth and justice and righteousness over His people and in His creation. It is also a hope that is built upon the historical truth that God is on the side of humanity because of He has already come once and has broken the chains of sin and evil that bind us.

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.  (Titus 2:11-14)

Lighting the Hope Candle

Reader: Every year we light candles as we prepare for the coming of Christ
More and more candles, more and more light
As we watch and wait for Jesus, the Light of the World

All: God of Promise, come into our darkness
Renew your hope in us,
For you alone bring life out of death.

Reader: Receive God’s promise of hope from Psalm 33:
The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him,
On those who hope is in His unfailing love,
To deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.

All: We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.
In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name.
May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord,
Even as we put our hope in You.

peace-candlePeace

Peace is normally defined as the absence of conflict or sound. We, however, looked at how this word is defined differently God’s story. Peace is a state of being, a sense that all is well, of tranquility and contentment in life… There is a sense that we can crawl into God’s lap and have that peace – a wholeness that comes with being with the One who Made Everything.

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

Lighting the Peace Candle

Reader: Every year we light candles as we prepare for the coming of Christ
More and more candles, more and more light
As we watch and wait for Jesus, the Light of the World

All: God of Promise, come into our darkness
Renew your hope and peace in us,
For you alone bring life out of death.

Reader: Receive God’s promise of peace from Psalm 4:
Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;
The Lord will hear when we call to him

All: Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord
We will lie down and sleep in peace,
For you alone, O Lord, make us dwell in safety

joy-candleJoy

Joy is a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. Normally we think that joy only comes when things are right and everything is going smooth. Yet, in reading the Holy Scripture we find that we can have joy not based upon fleeing emotions.

Our joy is based God’s presence and the knowledge that He came down into human history and set loose the chains that bound us. We are free from sin, evil and death!! No longer do we have to live under the yoke of darkness, but can thrive under the light of God!!

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

Lighting the Joy Candle

Reader: Every year we light candles as we prepare for the coming of Christ
More and more candles, more and more light
As we watch and wait for Jesus, the Light of the World

All: God of Promise, come into our darkness
Renew your hope and peace and joy in us,
For you alone bring life out of death.

Reader: Receive God’s promise of joy from Psalm 28:
Praise be to the Lord
For He has heard my cry for mercy
The Lord is my strength and my shield

All: My heart trust in Him, and I am helped
My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song

love candleLove

Love one of the most powerful things on the planet. It can be both an emotion and a decision. When things get tough and relationships are hard, we don’t stop loving just because we lost an emotional feeling. There is a decision that keeps us going through the pain and rough parts of life.

When God created the heavens and the earth, he did something very unique. He made man and women in his image and breathed life into them. He gave them the freedom to choose to follow Him or not to follow Him. It was a risking decision that could mean the destruction of everything God made. But he did it because he loved us!

And even after we turned out backs on Him, He loved us. So much so that He invaded our history to set us free from sin, evil, darkness, pain and death.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  -1 John 4:9-10

Lighting the Love Candle

Reader: Every year we light candles as we prepare for the coming of Christ
More and more candles, more and more light
As we watch and wait for Jesus, the Light of the World

All: God of Promise, come into our darkness
Renew your hope, your peace, your joy and your love in us,
For you alone bring life out of death.

Reader: Receive God’s promise of love from Psalm 36:
Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
Your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains
Your judgments are like the great deep
You save humans and animals alike, O Lord.

All: How precious in your steadfast love, O God!
All people may take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
They feast on the abundance of Your house
And You give them drink from the river of Your delights.

adventchristcandleThe Christ Candle 

Just like the Father Rohr quote read at the beginning of this post, Christmas is the forerunner for Easter. In Christmas God was saying that it was good to be human and that He was on our side. We are free from the guilt, pain, sin, and evil that bounds us because of the birth of Jesus marks the beginning of the invasion of human history by God Himself!

We live between the times – between the first and second Advent of Jesus. We live with both victory and defeat, pain and healing. Yet throughout it all, we proclaim that Jesus is King!

All hail! Let there by joy!

Hail to the King, hail to the King.
Blessed is He, blessed is He.

The peace of earth to Him;

The joy of heaven to Him.

The homage of a King be His
King of all victory

The welcome of a Lamb be His,
Lamb of all glory;
The Son of glory down from on high
All hail, let there be joy.

Deep in the night
The voice of the waves on the shore
Announced to us: Christ is born!
Son of the King of kings
From the land of salvation,
The mountain glowed to Him,
The plains glowed to Him,
Then shone the sun on the mountains high to Him.
All hail, let there be joy.

God the Lord has opened a Door.
Christ of hope, Door of joy!
Son of Mary, hasten Thou to help me!

In me, Lord Christ, let there be joy.

Love: An Advent Post

loveLove is interesting as a word because we use it so often (“I love this show, pizza, etc..”). It is also one of the most powerful things on the planet. Love is more powerful than fear, anger or revenge. There are tons of movies, shows, and songs sung about love. I would even say that most of the stories that have been passed down throughout the ages have deal with love, no matter what the culture or people group. Yet we still use the word loosely…

Love Defined

The dictionary defines love as

  • an intense feeling of deep affection.
  • a deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone.
  • a great interest and pleasure in something.

It is a word that can be both a noun and a verb. Or in different words, it is something that is both an emotion and a decision. An emotion as there are times when we have that intense feeling of affection; a decision because love is more than just emotions. When things get tough and relationships are hard, we don’t stop loving just because we lost an emotional feeling. There is a decision that keeps us going through the pain and rough parts of life.

Joseph’s decision

Speaking of decisions, have you ever thought about the decision Joseph had to make? Here was a man well liked by his community engaged to get married to the daughter of another well-known community member who had the reputation of following God. Then out of the blue his gal was found to be pregnant!

At first everyone thought that he, Joseph, had slept with her. But instead of confirming this rumor, Mary, his fiance, claimed that she did not have sex with him or anyone else for that matter. No, she claimed that God visited her one night and created a baby inside her through his spirit!!

What was Joseph to do?! He loved Mary and didn’t want to do her harm…

Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. –Mathew 1:19

Only the Lord God had other plans. He sent an angel to Joseph and told he what was going on:

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” –Mathew 1:20-21

Yet, Joseph still had a choice to make. He could listen to God and take Mary as his wife, rumors and all…. or he could play it safe and divorce her quietly… In the end we know that Joseph chose to take Mary has his wife and raise her son as his own in spite of all the rumors and nasty talk going on in the community.

God’s Love

You see, like Joseph, God has put his reputation and plans at  risk in an effort to love us. When God created the heavens and the earth, he did something very unique. He made man and women in his image and breathed life into them. Unlike the rest of creation, humans had the freedom to choose between walking with God or to rejecting him. They could choose between good and evil.

It was a risking decision that God made – one that could mean the destruction of everything he made. But He loved us so that much that he took a gamble on us and gave us the freedom to choose. And even when we made the choice to reject him, God still loved us. In fact he loved us so much that he decided to invaded human history to show us a new way of living:

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  -1 John 4:9-10

This is love. Not merely an emotion nor a decision made lightly. It is true love – something so powerful that it’s voice rings through the ages.

Our Choice

This brings us to our choice. We can choose to accept God’s love or not. The choice is there regardless of what we do as God’s love has broken the chains that bind us and set us free. We just need to say “yes, Lord” and walk after him. We have to shake off the old, unlocked chains and be free.

This is what Christmas is about. The Love of God invading the world and setting us free from the bonds of evil one!

This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

 We love because he first loved us.  –1 John 4:13-19

Celtic Advent Prayer

God of the watching ones, give us Your benediction.

God of the waiting ones, give us your good word for our souls

God of the watching ones the slow and the suffering ones, give us Your benediction,

Your good word for our souls that we might rest.

God of the watching ones, the waiting ones, the slow and the suffering ones, 

and the angels in heaven, and the child in the womb, give us your benediction,

your good word for our souls, that we might rest and rise in the kindness of your company.

Joy: An Advent Post

joy 2In our series so far we have talked about Hope and Peace. Today we are going to talk about Joy, that emotion of pleasure and happiness.

Because we live in a world full of darkness and pain, it is easy for our joy to be restricted and swashed.  Yet if our hope is in the promises of God and our peace is in knowing Jesus, then our joy should not be controlled by our circumstances but, instead, it should be based upon one thing and one thing only:

That God Himself came down into human history and set loose the chains that bound us. That God Himself freed us from sin, evil, death and all darkness. We no longer have to live under the yoke of darkness, but can thrive under the light of God!!   

Sorrow, no matter how painful it may be, should not take away our joy. As the Prophet Habakkuk said:

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.  –Habakkuk 3:17-18

Victory also should not control our joy. In Luke 10, when the 72 returned to Jesus after their mission to tell people about the Kingdom of God, it says they “returned in joy” because the demons submitted to them in Jesus’ name. Instead of rejoicing with them, Jesus replied:

“I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.  -Luke 10:18-20

We are to be joyful regardless of victory or defeat. Why? Because the King has come! We know the One who Created the Heavens and the Earth!  This is why St. James could say:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-4

Or the writer of Hebrews could say:

Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. – Hebrews 10:32-35

Or St. Paul

And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.2 Corinthians 8:1-2

St. Paul also declared in  2 Corinthians 7:4 that his “joy knows no bounds” despite all his troubles. And what were those troubles, we may ask? Well, in the previous chapter, St. Paul describes the physical beatings, imprisonments, hard work, sleepless nights and hunger that he has gone through. Yet in the middle of all that, he still stands up and declares that his “joy knows no bounds!” Amazing!!

If joy is simply an un-controlled emotion, then this would be impossible. But it is not!! Joy is a choice, a frame of mind – nay – it is a way of re-seeing the world around us through the eyes of Jesus. It is also a fruit of the Spirit of God, something that comes through knowing and walking after Jesus.

Joy to the World

This brings us right back to Christmas and to a group of outcast people, i.e. shepherds. True, some of Israel’s great heroes were shepherds — Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. Both Psalm 23 and Jesus compare God’s care to that of a Good Shepherd. But in the First Century, it seems, shepherds — specifically, hireling shepherds — had a rather unsavory reputation. Jeremias (German Lutheran theologian) cites Rabbinic sources to the effect that “most of the time they were dishonest and thieving; they led their herds onto other people’s land and pilfered the produce of the land.”

A midrash or Jewish commentary on Psalm 23:2 reads, “There is no more disreputable occupation than that of a shepherd.” Philo, a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher of Alexandria (25 BC – 45 AD), wrote about looking after sheep and goats, “Such pursuits are held mean and inglorious.”

It was to these outcasts, folks outside the normal places of society that the angels of God appeared  (Luke 2:10-12)

“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.”

The long awaited Messiah had come!!! The world is going to be different!! Joy in all circumstances was now available through the invasion of God in human history.

Celtic Advent Prayer

God of the watching ones, give us Your benediction.

God of the waiting ones, give us your good word for our souls

God of the watching ones the slow and the suffering ones, give us Your benediction,

Your good word for our souls that we might rest.

God of the watching ones, the waiting ones, the slow and the suffering ones, 

and the angels in heaven, and the child in the womb, give us your benediction,

your good word for our souls, that we might rest and rise in the kindness of your company.